City of Winnipeg investigating whether car left in grassy lot for at least 8 years is 'derelict'
Property owner has complained twice about vehicle that he says is a 'blight' on River Heights neighbourhood
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.
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.
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: