It might never become Camelot, but King Arthur Court is getting a makeover.
Fred Williams moved into the townhouse complex with his sons in mid-2015 with a mandate from the property owners to clear out undesirable tenants, clean up the grounds and renovate the complex’s 35 units.
“I work for a few different people, so I’m not sure who the actual owners are,” Williams said. “I’ve been put in charge here to watch and make sure all of these places are done right, make sure all of the people are out who need to be evicted, make sure that we’re working with the city bylaw; make sure that we’re working with whoever we have to work with.”
King Arthur Court, at the corner of Fifth Street and Georgia Avenue, has long been under city scrutiny for issues, including noise, violence and drug trafficking. It was finally designated a nuisance property in October 2010 after police were called to the complex 124 times from January to October 2010.
The nuisance designation resulted in inspections by Nanaimo Fire Rescue, the RCMP, city building and bylaws officers.
“A series of deficiencies that were found were dealt with,” Randy Churchill, former city bylaws manager, said in 2013, when he described the property owners as reasonable to deal with.
But dealing with deficiencies didn’t fix ongoing problems. In November 2012, a woman was stabbed on the property and survived, but the male victim of another stabbing there in January 2013 died, resulting in Nanaimo’s first murder of the year.
In January 2015, the on-site manager of the complex simply walked away one morning and was reported missing. He was found several days later. In April 2015 a fire gutted a suite, closing a block of three units that are currently under renovation.
Most recent complaints, made to the News Bulletin by neighbours of the property, focused on piles of garbage stacked around overflowing dumpsters. Those were cleared away by a contractor last week.
Williams said he and his sons now patrol the property. Security cameras and lighting have been installed, junk has been cleared from the grounds and unit entrances and fences and hedges have been cleared away to remove potential hiding places for illicit activities.
Prospective tenants now must have references, submit to criminal record checks and sign “crime-free environment” agreements before being able to sign rental agreements.
Williams wants to work with city bylaws and the RCMP and estimates it will take five months to turn over a new leaf at King Arthur Court.
“The long-term plan is to make it into a family environment. It’s a very hard task because there are so many outside influences and it’s a matter of keeping them off the property,” Williams said.
There are even plans to construct a playground.
Neither the RCMP or the city have commented directly on King Arthur Court or other properties inquired about recently by the News Bulletin.
Rod Davidson, city bylaws manager, said in an e-mail Tuesday he could not comment on particulars of the properties due to privacy concerns.
“It’s a big project, but you know what, it’s possible because Harewood’s changing,” Williams said.