The owner of a Lacombe Park house condemned by Alberta Health Services five years ago is co-operating with the city under a new bylaw passed this March.
The health unit condemned the house, located at 12 Laval Dr., in 2005 after it was deemed unfit for human habitation. In the years since, the house has deteriorated with boarded up windows, a back deck ready to collapse and grass left to grow wild.
In a report presented to city council on June 7, municipal enforcement supervisor Aaron Giesbrecht said that since the passage of a community standards bylaw in March, municipal enforcement has been working with the homeowner to start getting the property back in shape.
"The homeowner is being reasonable with us right now," Giesbrecht said, adding circumstances over the last five years led to the property getting to its current state, including a break-in and vandalism at the home.
According to the new bylaw, owners of uninhabitable buildings must either tear them down or rehabilitate them to ensuring they're properly looked after. If owners fail to comply, they will receive steep fines and, if necessary, pay for the city to tear it down.
Neighbours notice difference
During the June 7 meeting, Mayor Nolan Crouse said he talked about the property with neighbours, who reported there has been progress at the property, including a mowed front lawn and a fence that's being rebuilt.
Lloyd Kenney, who lives around the corner from the derelict home, said he has noticed some work at the front of the house, including boards missing from the front fence.
However, he also says the backyard still has uncut grass, while a broken window facing the park was covered with shredded plastic to keep out the elements.
"They've been at that for several weeks … the front looks better," he said.
Crouse later said he hopes the property serves as an example for other homeowners who do not look after their property.
"I've been observing this house for five years … I'm very happy he is working on it."
While 12 Laval Dr. is the worst property the city has dealt with under the new bylaw, Giesbrecht siad it doesn't mean officers haven't served notice to others to clean up their act.
"There are a number of houses we use that bylaw for, for long grass or something else," he said. "We've got this new tool and we're using it to get the problems dealt with."
Giesbrecht said the owner is working with municipal enforcement, but the city would take sterner steps if he feels the work is not completed in a timely manner.
"At such time that we think progress is too slow or nothing appears to be happening, we can take further steps," he said, citing provincial rules that allow municipalities to issue compliance orders.