Photo of the property on 20th street. Provided by the City of Courtenay
The City of Courtenay is taking forceful steps against the landlord of what’s been deemed a ‘nuisance’ property on 20th Street.
On Monday night, Council approved a staff recommendation, giving property owner Amandio Santos 30 days to board up the house “so as to prevent entry and occupancy of the building,” and bring it up to the provincial building code.
The other option is to demolish and remove the house and contents in their entirety.
The work would be carried out at Santos’s expense.
If unpaid on Dec. 31st in the year in which the work is done, the expense shall be tacked onto the taxes to be paid on the real property, as taxes in arrears or be collected as a debt.
Santos rents rooms at a house at 1655 20th Street.
The property was the scene of a police raid back in March, when police recovered stolen property believed to be stolen, a firearm, ammunition, and what was suspected to be controlled substances.
In April, city staff went to the home as part of RCMP action and found that several modifications were made to the house without permits.
They also found that the house was converted to become a De Facto boarding house, with a secondary suite in a partial portion of the basement. According to the building inspector, rooms that weren’t designated as bedrooms have been cordoned off into bedrooms.
None of this was done with permits, and there are no fire separations for the units created, and some of the areas used for sleeping or bedrooms don’t have windows.
Based on these observations, the city considered the building unsafe.
Mayor Bob Wells says the property has been a burden on the neighbourhood for far too long.
“I know, not just myself but all of council, I think, has been inundated with messages and meetings and discussions and, of course, feeling the utmost empathy for the folks in that neighbourhood and feeling that it has been a very difficult situation.”
Councillor Wendy Morin hopes some of the people who lived in the house will get help.
“No one should have to live in these kinds of conditions, and we’re hoping that some of these folks, if not all of them, will be able to connect with some services to get them proper housing that’s not dangerous,” she added. “People are in desperate situations, often, and sometimes think that just a roof over their head is enough, but as we’ve heard tonight, there is a significant risk to the people living in that building.”