Special to the News
An 11th hour repair blitz to bring Harbourview Apartments into compliance failed to sway a city decision to declare the aging building a nuisance property.
Council voted unanimously to impose the nuisance status despite a last-minute appeal by the building’s co-owners, Martin Chambers and Randy Brown.
“The work has been done under difficult circumstances and it’s been done rapidly,” Chambers told council at its regular meeting Monday night.
Chambers said a construction crew was diverted from the Athol Apartment project to the Harbourview, 3118 3rd Ave., to address 15 building code violations identified by the city. Improvements include new fire doors and a new balcony as well as interior improvements, he said.
“Every single thing that was complained about has been done,” Chambers said. “Admittedly it was in an appalling state.”
Mayor Mike Ruttan said that the number of fire and police calls triggered by the building’s tenants remains unacceptably high. Police had to respond to 81 calls involving the Harbourview last year while the fire department was called to the property 20 times.
Chambers promised that those calls would drop to zero.
“We’re going to be a lot more heavy-handed,” Brown offered, adding that he has been charged with assault as a result of an altercation with a tenant. He said it’s impossible to determine which tenants are responsible for the police and fire calls since the RCMP won’t provide reports, citing privacy concerns.
“The only option is to kick everybody out … and you’d put 30 people on the street,” Brown added.
Councillor Chris Alemany said the nuisance bylaw is about the state of the building and compliance as well as the city’s reputation:
“It has nothing to do with tenants,” he said.
Due to the number of callouts, however, councillor Ron Paulson said he was prepared to move ahead with the nuisance designation.
He noted that the calls resulted in 180 “man days” of police time when follow-up was included.
“Based on past history we’ve been left with no alternative,” Paulson said.
Councillor Sharie Minions said she was surprised and impressed by the owners’ compliance effort but added that council needs to keep the pressure on.
The owners said they were disappointed by council’s decision.
“The whole thing is a rush to judgment,” Brown said.