Penticton council isn’t going to be swayed from their decision to take action on a derelict house in the Queen’s Park neighbourhood.
At their regular meeting Monday, council turned down a request by the owners of a property at 287 Bassett St. for a two-week delay on the city’s order that they demolish the house that has been vacant and deteriorating since it was gutted by fire in 2007.
And neighbours are happy to see council sticking to their guns. Patricia Carvalho, who lives next door, said the property has been of increasing concern over the last five years.
“If you lived next door, you would know what it was like,” she said. “We had three cats last summer to chase the rats coming from there. I just hope that this continues and other properties in the city that are in similar condition are looked after.”
Council issued an order under the community charter declaring the property a hazard and a nuisance at a special council meeting earlier this month.
The property owners, Malvindar and Harbans Randhawa, were given 30 days to demolish the house and clean up the property before the city stepped in to take care of it.
The start of the 30-day time period was delayed until April 16 in order to give the Randhawas time to appear before council. However, when the matter was brought forward again at the regular city council meeting Monday, they did not appear to discuss their requested extension, which their letter implied had to do with their plans to build a duplex on the property.
“I think it is just appalling that they didn’t even come today to speak to us yet asked for an extension,” said Coun. Helen Konanz, who wondered instead if it was possible to speed up the process. “I would like to not give these owners even one more day. They have been putting this neighbourhood in jeopardy and the children that live in that neighbourhood. I think 45 days is way too much. We are being very kind to them.”
The property owners have been in contact with city staff, discussing the duplex project, which they originally took out a development permit for in 2008. However, they cancelled the building application they also submitted a few days later, in July 2008. The development permit eventually lapsed and a previous demolition permit was also cancelled in April 2009.
“No application has been made for a building permit for the duplex that was originally proposed,” said Ken Kunka, the city’s permits manager.
“Staff see no reason to delay the demolition, as it has no relevance to the building permit or the development permit application.”
“It’s not just a sore spot for us but many members of the neighbourhood and the community,” said Carvalho. “It’s frustrating, because it seemed he was able to request development permits and to request demolition and then it was cancelled and nobody did anything about it.”
Coun. Garry Litke agrees that the neighbourhood has had to deal with the problem for too long.
“People like yourselves shouldn’t have to suffer with derelict properties next door,” said Litke. “He’s had five years to solve this problem. The sooner we change the situation, the better off we are.”
John Vassilaki was the only councillor to speak in favour of granting the property owners their extension, saying that it’s been going on so long, a little longer wouldn’t make much difference.
“We’ve been waiting all this time, giving him that extra two weeks really isn’t going to hurt anything,” said Coun. Vassilaki. “If he doesn’t go along with that, the city says then we can go in and take care of it.”
It’s an opinion that Carvalho’s husband, Luis, does not share.
“This individual looks like he’s playing with the city for the last five years,” he said. “I am surprised that Coun. Vassilaki wants to give him more time, he’s already at five years.“
The Randhawas have until early May to take action on the property. Then it will be another 14 days while the city puts the project out to tender, making for a total of at least 45 days before demolition can take place.