Time’s up for the owner of the derelict Arrowview Hotel on Second Avenue in Port Alberni.
Ray Letourneau of Vancouver, who bought the old hotel last October, has missed a deadline to either start renovating or demolish the building, city director of development services Scott Smith said Tuesday. City council gave Smith the go-ahead to force the issue legally with Letourneau. That will happen under a Community Charter process.
The hotel has sat virtually empty for a number of years; it was gutted by fire in 2015. Demolition work began on the building in March 2017 with a different owner, but stalled until the hotel was sold again, this time toLetourneau. Nothing has been done on the building and Letourneau has missed his deadlines, Smith said.
“We have begun a process where we’re going to force the owner to either repair or tear down that building,” Mayor Mike Ruttan explained after the council meeting. “If the owner isn’t able to repair it, doesn’t have the funds to repair it, doesn’t have the funds to tear it down, then we’ll do that as a city.”
He said he is happy to see the city taking this action. “This is a major concern of council, it’s a major concern of mine,” he said. “That is not a safe building; it shouldn’t still be there. It needs to be torn down.
“Frankly, I don’t believe that building can be remediated. I believe the only thing that can happen with that building is for it to be torn down.”
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This is the second time council has been forced into this position with the Arrowview: in May 2017, after two verbal agreements by a previous owner that demolition on the building would continue, council began the Community Charter process to force the owner to do something with the building.
That owner had done some environmental abatement and demolition in March 2017, but work ceased shortly after it began. Instead of starting the work again, he sold the building. Letourneau told council in October 2017 that he planned on using the Arrowview for a “small community economic strategy” he has developed.
“I see myself as using this property as the core of the model,” Letourneau said at the time.
The cost to tear down the building in that case would be added to Letourneau’s property tax, and if the owner can’t afford to pay for the tax then the property becomes the city’s. Ruttan acknowledged that it will be expensive to demolish the building “but on the other hand it’s the responsibility of the building owner to make sure it’s safe.”
The city was put into a similar situation a few years ago with the Tidebrook Hotel that stood empty on Gertrude Street across from Roger Creek Water Park until it burned down. The owner did not remove the wreckage so the city paid to have it demolished and ended up with the property in a tax sale.
The Arrowview is not part of the city’s nuisance building bylaw, which staff have employed to deal with other buildings in South Port.
— With files from firstname.lastname@example.org