Saint John seeks more power to tear down derelict buildings
Saint John municipal politicians are continuing their push to have derelict buildings either torn down or fixed up by proposing a new bylaw that would strengthen their ability to combat more than 100 local eyesores.
Saint John city staff presented a draft bylaw to common council on Monday night that would widen the range of vacant buildings that are determined to be derelict.
Currently, the city has the authority to tear down vacant buildings without having to go to the courts if they are structurally unsound.
But with more than 100 buildings in the southern New Brunswick city that are viewed by locals as eyesores, the municipality is unable to force owners to fix up those structures.
Coun. Donnie Snook said he wonders if these proposed rules could be enforced by the city.
"We seriously have to ask the question: Do we have the resources to absolutely issue these orders and get moving so we can significantly see the number of derelict buildings reduced in the city?" Snook said.
Owners would have 30 days to fix buildings
If the bylaw goes ahead, property owners would have 30 days to fix up their buildings, demolish them or get them to a standard where they at least look lived-in.
If an owner refuses, the city could demolish a building on its own, at the owner's expense, with council's approval.
The new bylaw would also require property owners to board up their abandoned buildings with thick sheets of plywood to discourage trespassing, something Coun. Bill Farren said he likes.
"This would make it a lot harder for them to gain entrance," Farren said.
In order for the draft bylaw to be enacted, the Department of Local Government would need to amend the Municipalities Act. Saint John council has asked for city staff to contact the provincial government to make sure these amendments can go ahead.