The Cape Breton Regional Municipality’s new appeals standing committee meets for the first time today and will hear from property owners opposed to a plan to demolish structures on 33 properties across the municipality.
The list, compiled by city hall staffers on a complaint basis, includes properties in New Waterford (9), Sydney Mines (9), Sydney (4), Glace Bay (4), Florence (3), North Sydney (2) and Dominion (2).
The number of abandoned and derelict houses, many of which are old company duplexes, across the CBRM’S former working class neighbourhoods has been an increasing problem for the municipality.
Paul Burt, CBRM’s manager of building, planning and licensing, acknowledges that the municipality has received hundreds of complaints about dangerous and unsightly properties over the past few years.
“It’s a fluid number and we don’t know exactly — we have outstanding orders on properties we know about, but we’ll get 10 off the list and within a week there will be 10 new ones added to the list,” said Burt, who added that his department has an annual budget of $120,000 dedicated to the demolitions.
“Even on this list of 33 properties, there are a number that people have walked away from and there are a number owned by people who want us to demolish them and then they’ll take care of the bill because they have no other way to deal with it, so hopefully we’ll recoup as much of the cost as possible.”
Burt said that while he’s uncertain how many property owners will appeal the CBRM’S demolition plans, he has been informed that several plan to attend today’s meeting.
Once council passes a motion to demolish a property, a notice of intent is posted on the building and its owners have a limited period of time to have the structure demolished. If no action is taken, the municipality will issue a tender for demolition and the cost is added as a tax lien on the property.
The appeals standing committee meeting is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. and will be followed by the general committee meeting on planning and economic development at 3 p.m.
The CBRM council is then slated to meet at 6 p.m. Council will hear from top Cape Breton University officials, including interim president Dale Keefe, on the educational institution’s five-year revitalization plan before receiving a financial report from Port of Sydney Development Corporation CEO Marlene Usher.
Other selected council business slated for discussion includes a request from Councillor Ray Paruch for a staff issue paper on the future of a south end Sydney community devastated by the 2016 Thanksgiving Day flood, the renaming of Hemlock Drive in Sydney River and a couple of reports from CBRM chief financial officer Jennifer Campbell.
Today at City Hall
1:30 p.m. – Appeals Standing Committee Meeting
3 p.m. – General Committee Meeting on Planning and Economic Development
6 p.m. – CBRM Council Meeting
*all meetings to be held in council chambers at municipal building on Esplanade in Sydney