Demolition imminent for longtime West Coast Video 'eyesore'
Former video store in Old Ottawa South has been boarded up since 2009
A longtime blight in Old Ottawa South may soon have a date with a wrecking ball as the city issued a demolition permit for the former home to the West Coast Video store on Bank Street.
Ever since it was gutted by a fire in 2009, the building at 1123-1125 Bank St. has sat empty and boarded up as neighbours, the local community association, the city councillor, and even the mayor complained about the building's status.
"I'm really happy the demolition permit was issued," said Mayor Jim Watson. "It's been an eyesore and it's a real mess and it should be torn down because it's an ugly site on a very prominent street."
Capital ward Coun. Shawn Menard, who promised to make progress on the derelict two-storey brown brick building in his 2018 municipal campaign, said a recent meeting with the property owner led to the breakthrough.
"We worked with the folks that owned the building and talked to them about how we could do that [demolition]," said Menard. "We waived some fees to make this happen and brought a motion that was unanimously passed by city council."
Menard said the waived demolition fee amounted to $113. The real incentive for the owner, though, was a demolition permit issued without the need for a formal site plan once the debris clears.
According to Menard, the owner will install grass and nice stones to prevent illegal parking and to spruce up the land until a site plan is approved by the city.
"Maybe eventually there'll be something built there," he added. "Obviously it'd be nice to see a nice mixed-use building with business on the bottom and residential mixed-use on top, maybe with some affordable housing."
CBC reached out to the property owner, Gorfay Realty, but has yet to hear back.
Bylaw changes needed, says Menard
For both Menard and his predecessor, David Chernushenko, the building has been a thorn for more than a decade in Capital ward.
"There was a lot of animals in and out, sometimes people that were there, graffiti certainly on the building ... there was a lot of bylaw complaints, almost every week," said Menard.
Like Chernushenko before him, Menard has pushed the city to change its bylaws dealing with empty buildings, especially those located on bustling streets.
"Our bylaws are not strong enough. ... Cities like Hamilton or Winnipeg have much stronger bylaws where for boarded-up buildings there's incentive for the owners to get rid of them because it starts to cost them more. We don't have that in Ottawa," he said.
According to Menard, city staff have worked on proposed changes to the city's vacant building bylaw with the hope those changes are tabled sometime in 2022.