Kelowna council is cracking down on abandoned buildings in the city.
A staff report to council said there have been increasing cases involving vacant or unoccupied buildings damaged by fire or not secured properly to prevent break-ins. Over the past three years, four properties have been responsible for a combined 287 attendances by the fire department, bylaw and RCMP.
“I can’t believe the extreme drain we’ve had on our resources for so long,” said Coun. Maxine DeHart.
Proposed changes to the fire and life safety bylaw will allow the fire chief and designated staff certain powers in dealing with vacant or damaged buildings to prevent fires. Four steps of increasing enforcement based on the number of breaches are recommended by staff.
- All buildings identified as being vacant must be secured to prohibit unauthorized entry.
- First Breach – A security company must be contracted to visit the site twice per night.
- Second Breach – Property must have construction fencing installed.
- Third Breach – A contracted security company must remain on the site continuously.
“This falls under our mandate of being firm and fair as a council,” said Coun. Luke Stack, who also asked if building demolition could be considered.
City staff noted it could be looked at in specific cases. Staff also said the city has had fewer issues with a vacant site as opposed to one with a building on it.
The proposed changes will come back to council in two weeks for final approval. The bylaw would be enforced once it is passed.