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Houk wants consistent policy for demolition permits

In the wake of the fire at Jesus is Alive last month, calls have stepped up at City Hall for a more consistent demolition policy.

In the wake of the fire at Jesus is Alive last month, calls have stepped up at City Hall for a more consistent demolition policy.

At their monthly municipal services meeting Monday night, Councillor Trent Houk went so far as to suggest bringing in a demolition permit bylaw so there would be clear rules in place for everyone to follow.

Houk said he received lively feedback and complaints from the community about a lack of consistency on demolition permits. Initially, he called for the City to bring in a new bylaw on the subject.

"We need a demolition bylaw in this community that keeps it fair for everybody," Houk said at one point later in the meeting, "so the rules are being followed by everybody, they are being followed up on by the building and licensing department when the demolition is taking place."

He said there were instances where a demolition permit would be issued to order rubble removed, while another permit might not be so clear. Houk wanted a situation where "across the board, everybody has the same rules to follow, and that is that."

Houk's comments come in the wake of intensive discussion at City Hall in recent weeks over demolition permits and orders issued in the wake of the Jesus is Alive fire. The Jesus is Alive Association had previously pleaded for council to allow the building's foundation to remain intact for possible rebuilding, but the city moved ahead with final demolition and cleanup April 12 after the organization failed to come up with back taxes.

Previous discussions at council also pointed to situations where foundations remained intact at various other properties in the city, including at McDonald's and at the Jaydee Agtech site.

At Monday's meeting Mayor Ian Hamilton responded there was a consistent requirement to remove foundations as part of a demolition permit. But Houk disagreed, pointing to the situation at McDonalds during their demolition. "I've seen the building permits. There's no such stipulation for removing the foundation," he said.

"There is inconsistency, I'm seeing it, I'm getting huge complaints about it, and maybe I'm the only guy who will stand here and speak up to it."

Councillor Brad Pattinson suggested a more consistent approach to issuing demolition permits is achievable He suggested a simpler form could be used where, instead of the requirements being scribbled in by hand, there could be boxes that could be checked off on the permits so everyone would understand what the demolition permits say.

That suggestion also got the approval of Councillor Grace Lang who said that would be helpful to city administration as well, and seemed to mollify Houk who said he would be okay with one demolition policy for everyone involved.