Several old buildings have been bulldozed down and Northumberland Court is soon to go.
Now some on Maple Ridge council are worried it could have another at the foot of 224th Street, the burned-out shell of what used to be Don Cherry’s Sports Grill.
The building went up in flames Aug. 30, and while the fire department has finished its investigation, police and the insurance company are continuing theirs.
Since then, it’s already being broken into twice, fire chief Dane Spence told council.
“It’s already become problematic in its current state.
“It’s iffy if this building can be saved or not.”
While the fire department visits the site once a day and construction crews from a project next door use the parking lot during work hours, there is no 24-hour, on-site security.
Coun. Mike Morden wondered how much that was costing the municipality and didn’t want to wait for a year should the property deteriorate.
Meanwhile, a new condo is being built nearby, increasing the risk and it would be cheaper to have private security at the building, Morden said.
“I’m extremely concerned about the risk there.”
Coun. Craig Speirs wanted to know if bylaw infractions must occur before the enforcement action took place and was told by Spence, that is the case.
“As the risk increases, our response increases.”
Mayor Ernie Daykin added that he knew of a similar case that dragged on for years.
Meanwhile, removal of asbestos and hazardous material from Northumberland Court, formerly known as the ghetto, on Fraser Street, has been completed in one of four buildings and work has started on the second.
Each building takes about a week to prepare for the final razing. “Then we’ll actually take the shells down,” Spence said.
Meanwhile, Coun. Cheryl Ashlie said she wants council and staff to study slapping higher property taxes or financial fees on derelict buildings that cost the district money to ensure they’re safe and secure.
“If we have this going on in our downtown area … why are we not putting a fire under them a bit with financial incentives?
“It seems to be costing us.”
Coun. Linda King liked the idea of having “some kind of policy around building that remain vacant for long periods of time in high-risk areas.”
But a policy has to be fair and carefully prepared, she added.
Public works general manager Frank Quinn pointed out council has ordered and completed the demolition of the old gym on 224th Street, several old homes on three acres it bought on Selkirk Avenue and 226th Street as well as the soon-to-be-demolished Northumberland Court.