It was with interest that I read your article in the April edition regarding "City pushes for Jesus is Alive site cleanup.”
In particular, the following sentence: "Councillors at Monday's meeting passed two resolutions that sent the same message to the owners of the fire destroyed property; pay up back taxes and clean up or else the City will do it for you."
Apparently, Mayor Ian Hamilton said the owners have had enough time to clean up the debris.
Well, exactly the same could be said for the fire damaged car wash on 100th Street. The out of province owners of this property, which is a massive eyesore, seem to have been given an inordinate amount of time to clear up or renovate this property:
Oct. 26, 2011 - Demolition order granted by the council but owner would be submitting plans and proposal for repair.
Nov. 18, 2011 - Haroon Khatri appeals demolition order and pledged to begin repairs and clearing rubble; offered to pay back taxes by March 31, 2012 but city voted to allow only until Nov. 25, 2011 for payment. If no payment received, proceed with demolition.
Nov. 30, 2011 - Haroon Khatri promises to repaint, replace windows and doors, and begin renovations by spring 2012.
Jan. 24, 2012 - City patience is apparently wearing thin as Haroon Khatri has again reneged on his promises as no commencement of repairs, repainting, etc. has occurred.
At time of writing, the owner has half heartedly painted the front of the building only and put up a "for rent" sign. No new windows or doors are evident, nor the routinely promised renovations.
It appears Haroon Khatri has been able to fob off City officials with impunity with empty promises of cleanup and renovation, as well as many other (out of province) landlords/owners of derelict properties in rundown downtown North Battleford.
Why is it different for Olaf Petersen, the owner of the Jesus Is Alive building? At least he is taking responsible steps by fencing off his arson destroyed property to protect the public, and also his altruistic gesture of offering free bricks to anyone in the community who wants or needs them is helping already with the clearing of the site.
Surely he should be applauded for such behaviour. It was not his fault his building was destroyed by an arson attack. He should be given as much time as realistically necessary to enable him to clean up and make good. At least he has already started, which is more than can be said for any of the other owners of derelicts here.
I fail to see how Ian Hamilton can allow such double standards and also do so in such a blatant manner and not expect to be questioned about it. Or afford Olaf Petersen the same treatment as other out of province landlords such as Haroon Khatri.
Downtown North Battleford is derelict central. Regeneration is desperately needed, not only to improve the look of the place, but to try to attract more diverse and new businesses/revenue that would re-inject some much needed life back into downtown. Although there are a myriad of problems that need to be addressed to enable such regeneration to happen, if such double standards and laxity are seen to be evident regarding how cases like this are handled, nobody will want to invest here.
It appears to me that a universal policy regarding a timescale for payment, demolition/renovation/sale of the derelicts needs to be set up, and enforced to prevent such double standards happening again, speed up the problem with empty and rundown buildings and to start encouraging the regeneration that is so badly needed.