Manitoba

City of Winnipeg investigating whether car left in grassy lot for at least 8 years is 'derelict'

A Winnipeg man is frustrated after repeated attempts to get the City of Winnipeg to remove a vehicle that has been sitting in a grassy lot for at least eight years.

Property owner has complained twice about vehicle that he says is a 'blight' on River Heights neighbourhood

A red, two-door car with a black roof is parked on a grassy lot. The tires are deflated and the wheels sunk into the ground.
This vehicle has been sitting in a grassy lot behind a Centennial Street home for at least the past eight years. (Rudy Gauer/CBC)

A car left sitting for years in a grassy lot behind a house in Winnipeg's River Heights neighbourhood has become a "blight" on nearby properties, one Winnipeg man says.

"It's got grass up to the windows, depending on the time of year, completely flat tires — it hasn't moved in eight years, and I'm dumbfounded that nobody seems to give a damn," said Michael Gillespie.

He represents a company that owns a house on Centennial Street, just north of Grant Avenue and east of Kenaston Boulevard. Across a back lane from the house is a grassy lot where the car — a red two-door Eagle Talon — has sat for years.

Gillespie's company bought the house in April, and he says the previous owner didn't know who the car belonged to.

A search of Google Street View images, going back as early as 2014, shows the vehicle parked in the same spot. The licence plate sticker shows that it was registered in 2012.

The car's tires are now flat, its mirrors and lights are smashed, and the wheels have sunk into the ground.

A close up picture shows a deflated dire on a red car, the wheel sunk into the ground.
The tires are deflated and the wheels sunk into the ground. (Rudy Gauer/CBC)
A close-up photo shows a broken side mirror on a car.
Michael Gillespie says the vehicle is a 'blight' on his nearby property. (Rudy Gauer/CBC)

The lot where the car sits — a former railway line — does not have an address, but is registered as private property. CBC News attempted to contact the property owner, but did not immediately receive a response.

Gillespie has twice reported the vehicle to the City of Winnipeg's 311 service, asking for it to be declared derelict under the city's Neighbourhood Liveability bylaw. Both times, he says his report was closed without any explanation, and with seemingly no action taken.

A spokesperson for the city said bylaw enforcement officers are still investigating whether the car meets the definition of a derelict vehicle.

According to the bylaw, there are three criteria:

  • The vehicle is not in operating condition and is rusted, wrecked or partly wrecked, or is dismantled or partly dismantled.
  • It is not insured and registered under the Highway Traffic Act and does not have a current, valid licence plate attached.
  • It is entirely or partially outside of a building.

At its June meeting, Winnipeg city council passed an amendment to the bylaw that aims to make it easier for the city to remove derelict vehicles.

Previously, the bylaw said vehicles must be left outside for at least a month. That led to long delays getting the city to remove vehicles, said Waverley West Coun. Janice Lukes, who proposed the amendment.

A red car sits in a grassy field next to a city back lane.
A recent screengrab from Google Street View shows the car sitting in a grassy lot behind a home on Centennial Street. The lot does not have an address, but is registered as private property. (Google Street View)

The case of the vehicle Gillespie has complained about shows why the amendment was needed, Lukes said, and the city should remove it.

"It's a dead vehicle in the middle of a field. That just shouldn't be there," she said in an interview with CBC.

"We live in a city, in an urban environment, and we're trying to … have sort of some level of neighbourhood livability, and dead vehicles in the middle of a field is not conducive to positive neighbourhood livability."

Gillespie says he's been given conflicting explanations for why the vehicle hasn't been removed. Regardless of who it belongs to or why it was left there, he wants it gone.

"Clearly, the city is incapable of doing anything these days," he said.

"Maybe [they] … don't have enough staff. Maybe nobody wants to talk on the phone to disgruntled citizens, but this seems to be a really simple thing. And it's just disgusting."

WATCH | Neighbours call for action after car sits on grassy Winnipeg lot of eight years: 

Car left sitting on grassy Winnipeg lot for 8 years an eyesore, neighbour says

2 months ago
Duration 2:19
The City of Winnipeg is looking into whether a car left in a grassy lot for at least 8 years is derelict or not.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cameron MacLean is a journalist for CBC Manitoba living in Winnipeg, where he was born and raised. He has more than a decade of experience reporting in the city and across Manitoba, covering a wide range of topics, including courts, politics, housing, arts, health and breaking news. Email story tips to cameron.maclean@cbc.ca.

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