Complaints continue to come in about a boarded-up building on Bank Street, but the councillor for the area says his hands are tied.

Janine Adamyk Old Ottawa South vacant building January 15 2014

Business owner Janine Adamyk says the boarded up building across the street is "a dead zone." (CBC)

The building in Old Ottawa South once housed West Coast Video and Elee Spa.  Five years ago, a fire tore through the building and it's been vacant ever since.

"It's not uplifting. It's nothing that people want to go toward. It's not vibrant, it's not alive, it's just a dead zone," said Janine Adamyk, who runs a bridal gown shop across the street.

"We've got an eyesore right in the middle of our neighbourhood that has been there for years and doesn't look like it's going to be improving any," said resident Jay Illingworth, who has complained to the city and his MPP.

Councillor plans to step up bylaw enforcement

But Capital Ward Coun. David Chernushenko said as long as property owners protect the area by boarding it up, and as long as they pay property taxes, they can keep their properties empty as long as they like.

David Chernushenko Old Ottawa South building empty January 15 2014

Capital Ward Coun. David Chernushenko says property owners can keep buildings empty as long as they keep the area safe and pay property taxes. (CBC)

Chernushenko said he tried to change that by coming up with legislation that would limit the amount of time commercial buildings can sit vacant, but he was told it wouldn't pass.

"I did run into our own legal advice, [which] was that it was really unenforceable. You can't make someone do something with their property other than keep it safe. ... And so far, this owner has been meeting the bare minimum," he said.

Now, Chernushenko said he's heading to the building on Friday with a bylaw officer to look for any violations.

"I hope that by being rigorously kept to all of the standards, they will reach a point where they find it's too big a nuisance and a cost to keep making these small repairs or paint jobs, and that it's time to act on it," he said.

The property owner did not respond to CBC's request for an interview.

The city said that when the owner was notified of bylaw violations in the past, they responded quickly to fix the problems.