City cracking down on abandoned buildings

London, ON, Canada / 106.9 The X
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London City Hall is doing its part in trying to eliminate the number of abandoned buildings in the city.

Along with police and fire services, the city has identified 92 buildings that need further inspection to determine their fate.

Since the start of October 57 have been inspected, with 9 being demolished and 15 being boarded up. Bylaw enforcement manager Orest Katolyk, speaking in front of the house pictured above, explains their plan.

“This building behind me, this one was boarded up. We will be doing additional property standards orders on the building. Our intent is twofold: to either have the buildings fixed or have the buildings demolished.”

If buildings do face the wrecking ball, the cost of the demolition will be passed onto the property owner.

“If they don’t pay it goes onto the taxes,” Katolyk says. “If the property owner sells the property the new owner will have to pay the outstanding taxes.”

There are abandoned houses all over the city, not only in worn down neighbourhoods but in more upscale locations such as one on Corley Drive. They often have a negative impact on the surrounding area, lowering property values and introduce trespassing issues. Spotters have been known to take shelter in some of these houses, which can lead to even more problems.

“When a building is left abandoned it can be an attractive property for people who are looking for a place to stay or have some fun in a spot that there’s no control over,” explains London Police Sergeant Tyler Cowan. “The most common offence would be trespassing. There are thefts, copper pipes in these homes that are stolen.”

Fires have also been known to happen in these buildings, which are compounded when people are inside.

“Often times with these vacant buildings there are structural issues with them,” says deputy fire chief Gary Bridge. “If there’s evidence that a resident may be inside, you’re placing your firefighters at significant risk if they have to go in because there might be soft spots, entanglement issues, dirty needles, syringes. We have to be mindful of the health and safety of our firefighters.”

Bridge adds that they work with community groups to find proper homes for squatters. The task force is aiming to finish inspections within the next few weeks, and more buildings are likely to be demolished. The public can assist the effort by forwarding concerns to vacantbuildings@london.ca.

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