Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Finish house now, contractor told

North Kildonan home in works for decades

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City officials have begun proceedings to compel a contractor to complete construction of a home he began work on almost 20 years ago.

The large two-storey home on Brahms Bay -- an upscale neighbourhood in North Kildonan -- has been an irritant and eyesore for neighbours for the past 15 years. That's when Dennis Pelisek suddenly stopped working on the 2,656-square-foot home.

"You have to ask what's reasonable, and we've been more than reasonable," said Barry Thorgrimson, director of planning, following an appeal hearing Tuesday at city hall.

City officials used regulations in the vacant buildings bylaw to pressure Pelisek to finish the house -- ordering him to complete the bathroom, kitchen and electrical work inside the home and to construct stairs and railings on the outside -- or demolish it.

Pelisek told the committee city officials were being heavy-handed, arguing, unsuccessfully, the vacant buildings bylaw didn't apply to the Brahms Bay home.

Pelisek said the house isn't vacant, it's still under construction, adding he can't complete the interior work until he resolves foundation issues.

"I just don't feel I'm being treated fairly," Pelisek said.

Pelisek, who lives in the North End, didn't explain why he stopped working on the house or when he expected to complete construction.

Pelisek has until mid-June to complete the outstanding work.

Thorgrimson said if Pelisek doesn't comply with the order, the city could take him to court or do the work itself and add the cost to his property tax bill.

While the property taxes on the home are up to date, Thorgrimson said if Pelisek did not pay the taxes, the city could seize the home in a tax sale.

The house appears to be finished at first glance, with the exception of a missing garage door. The windows are installed and secure, as are the entry doors.

Neighbours who didn't want to be identified said the house has been unchanged for 15 years, adding Pelisek sometimes drops by to mow the lawn or shovel the driveway.

The front yard is covered with snow, but neighbours said Pelisek allows the grass to grow almost a metre tall.

He said he was growing native grass that contained three different varieties of flowers.

Peter DeGraaf, the city's bylaw-enforcement manager, said the house is a fire trap.

DeGraaf said area youths have used the garage late at night for drinking parties, adding he was concerned the unfinished state of the home's interior would pose a safety risk to any firefighters who responded to a call there.

Thorgrimson said the city has never dealt with a situation like this. He said most people finish construction of a home in a reasonable time period.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 16, 2014 B2

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