Two weeks after the City of Port Alberni slapped remediation orders on two buildings, it is a relief to see some work is being done to fix the numerous problems at both addresses.
In a report more than 100 pages long, the city last month listed evidence, photos and violations for the Port Pub on Argyle Street and Harbourview Apartments on Third Avenue. Officials gave the landlords 30 days to fix up the long list of grievances, or the city would do it at their expense and charge it back to the landlords.
Whose responsibility is it to deal with these buildings? How did they get to such a state of disrepair?
Many have blamed the tenants for the state of the buildings—saying it is their trash, their hoarding, their bad behaviour that has caused the problems. However, safety issues are a landlord’s responsibility.
Both buildings have absentee landlords—one lives in Victoria, and the other is in Richmond. Neither is onsite to ensure emergency exits aren’t welded shut or wires from emergency lights aren’t left exposed. No one is onsite to deal with issues immediately, as they crop up.
If either landlord has a property manager, the process clearly isn’t working.
The state of the buildings and what goes on inside them has caused an incredible waste of time for the RCMP and Port Alberni Fire Department—most of the alarm calls the fire department has responded to so far this year are false alarms. The company tasked with testing safety equipment in the buildings won’t step foot in them due to safety concerns. That’s ludicrous.
The city has a vested interest in keeping the landlords of these buildings on task—it is costing taxpayer dollars to have bylaw, RCMP and firefighters respond to calls. It is also costing the city in reputation: the buildings are located on two main streets, and they both look so terrible city councillors referred to them publicly as ‘offensive’.
One of the buildings, the Harbourview, has already been on the city’s nuisance building list before it was cleaned up briefly.
These buildings should never have gotten to this state before someone acted. Going forward, there will be no excuse to allow this to happen again.
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