Cumberland is demanding a major clean-up at a Derwent Avenue property. Photo by Mike Chouinard

Cumberland orders massive clean-up at downtown house

Uninsured vehicles, illegal structures have been subject of multiple complaints

  • Jan. 16, 2021 12:00 a.m.

Council and village staff in Cumberland want a house subject to multiple complaints to clean up quickly.

At the Jan. 11 meeting, council approved a motion to impose remedial action requirements on the owner and tenants of a property at 2721 Derwent Ave.

Bylaw officer James Abrams outlined the current situation at the site, which has been the source of complaints for several years.

“The state of the property has only diminished since 2017,” he said.

A report to council outlines the history of complaints concerning noise, unsightly property, unlicenced vehicles and construction without a permit dating back to 2018. Since the middle of the following year, the village has received 33 written complaints, as well as additional phone complaints. Members of council too have heard about the house.

Coun. Gwyn Sproule mentioned she knew of other problem properties over her years on council, but this site stood out in her mind.

“This is about the worst I’ve seen in 18 years,” she said.

Last year, construction started without a permit on an accessory building. The resident has submitted an incomplete building permit application, which was still incomplete by the time of the council meeting. The village also issued a stop work order on the structure last June, though the order, itself, was illegally removed.

The report chronicles a long list of problems such as vehicles with the property, along with several pages of photographs. In short, the report states, these are “a nuisance and are so dilapidated or unclean as to be offensive to the community.” There have been multiple uninsured vehicles and illegal structures. One paragraph alone cites numerous items on the property including torn-out cedar trees, cut branches and other cut vegetation, artificial exterior carpet, a spool of metal wire, swing frame, bike rack, black patio chairs, glass table and white mini fridge on a wood pallet, a cabinet and deflated raft, a pile of wet cardboard, a metal plate and fencing around a hot tub. The report includes 64 photos depicting some of the problems.

“This has gone on way too long,” Mayor Leslie Baird said. “We want it solved.”

In response, bylaw enforcement has sent multiple letters to the owner and the occupiers about resolving the issues on site. As of the Jan. 11 meeting, the village had received no response from the owner, while the occupier responded in writing but would not meet with village staff. In addition to the notices, the village has issued a number of MTI tickets both to the owner and the occupiers.

Coun. Sean Sullivan said it looked like they had cleaned up the front of property a little in recent days, but much work remained.

“I think that’s just putting a band-aid on all this,” he said.

The action by council gives the owner 30 days to remove a long list of items and make sure the site is in “neat, clear and orderly” condition. In addition, there is a 60-day window in which to remove a number of illegal structures, associated extension cords, wires and wiring and any debris resulting from their structures’ demolition.

mike.chouinard@comoxvalleyrecord.comLike us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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