June 15, 2019

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City speeds derelict seizures

Changing procedure to allow properties' titles to be taken more quickly

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 6/4/2010 (3356 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A minor change in the way Winnipeg enforces its derelict-building bylaw could help the city seize problem properties more quickly and convert them into productive parcels of real estate.

Back in 2004, when council passed a piece of legislation called the Vacant & Derelict Building Bylaw, the city's planning, property and development department received the power -- at least on paper -- to seize vacant properties, provided they could prove owners were not doing enough to maintain them.

But the city has only seized one property since the bylaw was enacted, mainly because the city has to spend at least three years jumping through a series of legal hoops before it can acquire a problem property.

Now, property inspectors have come up with a way to shave about a year off the process: They've asked council to seize a derelict North End home before they put out a call for redevelopment proposals, instead of putting out the call first and seizing later.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 6/4/2010 (3356 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A minor change in the way Winnipeg enforces its derelict-building bylaw could help the city seize problem properties more quickly and convert them into productive parcels of real estate.

Back in 2004, when council passed a piece of legislation called the Vacant & Derelict Building Bylaw, the city's planning, property and development department received the power — at least on paper — to seize vacant properties, provided they could prove owners were not doing enough to maintain them.

Property at 736 Magnus Ave. the city plans to seize.

Property at 736 Magnus Ave. the city plans to seize.

But the city has only seized one property since the bylaw was enacted, mainly because the city has to spend at least three years jumping through a series of legal hoops before it can acquire a problem property.

Now, property inspectors have come up with a way to shave about a year off the process: They've asked council to seize a derelict North End home before they put out a call for redevelopment proposals, instead of putting out the call first and seizing later.

"This seems to be a creative response to the general council direction to move more quickly on derelict properties," St. Vital Coun. Gord Steeves said Tuesday, after council's property and development committee approved a plan to seize 736 Magnus Ave., a dilapidated house in the Dufferin neighbourhood.

"It looks like a way to shortcut the process, get the building out of our hands and move it back into the marketplace," said Steeves, who chairs the committee.

The move prevents owners of derelict properties from stepping forward with last-minute pleas to fix up their property during the time it takes the city to put out a call for redevelopment proposals from private developers or non-profit groups and then evaluate them.

It also makes private and non-profit developers more likely to be interested in derelict properties, as the uncertainty around the process of seizing these properties has been reduced, inspectors Dave Dessens and Gary Solkoski write in a report to council.

"Potential proponents have been unwilling to invest the time and money necessary to prepare detailed development plans when there is considerable doubt that the property will ever be available for redevelopment," they write.

The plan to take title of what will be only the second property seized under the derelict-building bylaw still requires approval from executive policy committee and council. But it will send a message to neglectful owners the city is ramping up efforts to eliminate hundreds of derelict buildings from the city's inventory of approximately 600 vacant properties, said Mynarski Coun. Harry Lazarenko, who both lives on and represents Magnus Avenue.

"Once the absentee landlords find out we mean business, they'll start acting," he said.

There is no excuse to have a derelict property in a Winnipeg real estate market that makes it easy to move parcels of vacant land, added Steeves, noting the Magnus home will likely be demolished before it's declared surplus and handed over or sold to a developer.

The city frequently hears what Steeves calls "silly excuses" from owners of derelict buildings who don't want to maintain their properties.

As if to underscore the point, Steeves' committee also voted Tuesday to give the owner of a McPhillips Street property 30 days to demolish a pair of decrepit structures of which the owner claimed to be unaware — yet still managed to file a formal appeal about.

"The concept of somebody coming and suggesting he doesn't know what buildings we're talking about is ridiculous," Steeves said.

bartley.kives@freepress.mb.ca

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