Penticton declares Ellis Street property a nuisance

A property on Ellis Street in Penticton, the site of a housing fire more than two years ago, is on its way to being cleaned up

Penticton Fire Department members arrive on the scene of a fire on Ellis Street in Jan. 2011

Penticton Fire Department members arrive on the scene of a fire on Ellis Street in Jan. 2011

A property on Ellis Street in Penticton, the site of a housing fire more than two years ago, is on its way to being cleaned up, whether or not the owner chooses to cooperate.

On Jan. 26, 2011, the residents of a boarding house at 597 Ellis Street were driven out into a cold winter morning with little more than the clothes on their backs when their home was gutted by fire.

Firefighters arrived on scene around 7:30 a.m. that morning to find a shed on fire. Flames from the shed, where it is believed someone was also living, spread to the house.

No one was killed in the fire, but two-and-a-half years later, the City of Penticton building department is still trying to work with property owner Dennis Hildebrand to see the property cleaned up, either by levelling it to grade or applying for a permit to put up a new building. Anthony Haddad, the city’s  director of development services, told council that Hildebrand had done nothing to maintain the property in a tidy and secure manner unless directed to by bylaw officers.

“In Nov. 2012, after a lack of response from the property owner, staff provided further deadlines with regards to cleaning up the property and securing the site from a public safety perspective,” said Haddad. “Staff have had no concrete response from the property owner or his intentions to clean up the site.”

Council unanimously endorsed Haddad’s suggestion the city begin taking action under the “Good Neighbour” bylaw, labelling the remaining parts of the structure a hazard and a “declared nuisance,” placing it under a demolition order.

Hildebrand will be given an opportunity to present his case to city council on May 20, prior to them making a final decision. If council chooses to continue the action, Hildebrand will have 30 days from receipt of notice to bring the property into compliance or the city will perform the work, charging the cost back to him.