City council is asking the owners of the former Redfish Grill building to take responsibility for the site which has become a hazard.
At Monday night’s city council meeting, a recommendation from city staff — with consultation from lawyers — asked that the building be legally described as hazardous and in an “unsafe condition and constitutes a nuisance and the owner, Sue Ying Wong, is ordered to remove or repair the building within 60 days.”
Council however voiced concern around the wording of the recommendation and an amendment was made by councillor Paula Kiss which asked that the owner bring the building up to a standard as specified by the City bylaws.
“I wasn’t entirely comfortable with the wording we ended up passing, but certainly I am pleased with the intent that we first deal with the safety issues and second encourage the property owner to redevelop the site,” said councillor Donna Macdonald.
According to the staff report, a letter was sent to the owners of the property on July 4 requiring that an engineering report containing a permanent resolution to the structural hazards of the building be received by the City no later than August 1.
An engineers report has not been received and the burned out structure is now creating an unsafe environment.
“In June, bricks started falling off the building onto the sidewalk and we ordered the property owner to build the canopy that’s there,” said Dave Wahn, manager of development services and sustainability.
“We did some research into the Community Charter to see whether we could request them to do the work to protect the building, but also to provide us a report or to rebuild it or demolish it to show that it was going to be safe for the foreseeable future.
“The issue is safety right now and we need to address that safety issue in one way or another and we need them as a property owner to take responsibility for the hazard to the citizens of the city.”
Council took issue with the recommendation’s wording which included the option of the building owner to demolish the structure which was destroyed by flames in July 2010.
“Obviously I would like to see the building repaired or restored and brought back to active life on the street, but we can’t make that happen. It’s not our property,” said Macdonald.
An engineering report was done immediately after the fire destroyed the building which determined the structure was safe, but with the freeze-thaw processes and weathering over the past two years, the safety of the building has changed.
“We have no legislation that requires them to rebuild or repair the building,” said Wahn. “They have every right to demolish or rebuild to bylaw standards. We would encourage them to rebuild or renovate the existing structure as much as possible. Obviously a lot of people in the city feel that it is a heritage building and it needs to be preserved, but we have no tools within our legislation to encourage them to rebuild its old glory.”