Saint John councillors order demolition of former Fairport Motel

Saint John councillors have authorized the demolition of a long vacant west side motel despite a last-minute appeal from property owners.

Last-minute appeal from property owners fails to save the old motel

The Fairport was once a popular Saint John motel and eatery. City council has now authorized its demolition. (CBC)

Saint John councillors have authorized the demolition of the vacant Fairport Motel, despite a last-minute appeal from its property owners.

Lang Lee and Ilir Loka, both of Guelph, Ont., appeared in person before city council Monday to request a 30-day delay to allow them to arrange permits to do a partial demolition on site, a move that would spare some of the motel units.

The property owners said they purchased the property in August, 2017 and told councillors they were planning to start renovations next year.

But the move swayed no one.

Councillors voted unanimously to have city staff arrange demolition through a contractor and the owners will foot the bill.

An eyesore for residents

The dilapidated Fairport has been a source of complaints from its neighbours on Manawagonish Road for years.

"I know the people have really suffered for this for a long time," said Saint John Deputy Mayor Shirley McAlary.

They have reported families of raccoons, which have set up house in several of the units — entering and exiting through a large hole in the roof.

"I can't wait to see it in the dumpster," said west side Coun. Greg Norton, where the motel is located. 

"As far as I'm concerned this building should have been down years ago."

Neighbours of the former Fairport Motel have reported families of raccoons living in some of the units. (CBC)

Since June of 2017, the rundown property was in the hands of the provincial government after being seized for back taxes.

It was only after failed attempts to get the newest owners to take action that the notice to comply was served under the city's Unsightly Premises and Dangerous Buildings and Structures Bylaw, the final step before a demolition.

Taking the matter to court 

Fairport Motel property owners Lang Lee (left) and Ilir Loka (right) say they hoped to save part of the motel complex from demolition. (CBC)

Following the vote, Ilir Loka spoke outside the council chambers and said he may take the matter to court.

"This is against the law, I believe," said Loka. "No city council [has] power to demolish a private property."

Loka said he and Lee had hoped to remove the former restaurant and a row of motel units that are in particularly bad shape, keeping several newer units so a new motel business could be launched.

They were also hoping to build a new home and office on site for Lee.