Summerland council approved the first steps towards remedial action against a property that has been in non-compliance with the district's building bylaws since 2014 on Tuesday.
According to district staff, structures have been built on the property over time since 2005, and all without a building permit at the south side of Hillborn Street.
Recent inspections conducted by building officials, fire inspectors, and structural engineers have determined that this building is unsafe.
Temporary farm workers have also been staying in the structures constructed as dwelling units and accommodation, despite posted “Do Not Occupy” notices that were issued as of May 19, 2022, by the district.
While multiple letters of notice have been sent to the property owners in an attempt to resolve the non-compliance issue, district staff said the property owners are unwilling to remove the building or bring the building into compliance.
Staff recommended proceeding with a Remedial Action Order, which starts with a letter giving 30 days of written notice before action is taken by the district to bring the structure into a lock-up phase in order to limit future occupancy and removing services to the buildings such as water and sewer services and electrical.
The landowner would then either pursue a renovation building permit or a demolition permit.
"We're trying to prevent any occupancy of the building of any kind including the industrial occupancy that is currently happening on the property because the owner has shown that they have neglected to follow our do not occupy order," Brad Dollevoet, Director of Development Services said.
Coun. Doug Patten questioned moving forward with a lock-up, as he'd never heard of a municipality locking a building off before.
Dollevoet said typically, with remedial action, the next step in this process is for bylaw enforcement to ask them to demolish it or demolish it on their behalf.
"We have tried to work with the new owners of the business to bring this property into compliance and they have not followed our orders in terms of occupancy of the building," he added.
"We're just wanting to give them that time again, to try to pursue the building permit to renovate or demolish the structure but just to prevent occupancy at this point in time."
Dollevoet said that council has full discretion as to the extent of this remedial action order to pursue at this point in time.
"When you've had a do not occupy order for at least a year. You've had more than enough time and are more than aware that you've got to fix something," Coun. Richard Barkwill said.
"It's obvious that sterner measures are needed in order to prod them into action. There has to be a time limit."
The property owners will have 30 days to show action has been taken as a step towards addressing the building issues following the written notice.
"I think this is just one kind of tool that we have at the District of Summerland to say that 'Hey, this is serious to us' and now the ball is entirely in their court as to how they respond to it. Which could include coming by the council in three weeks' time. Maybe us at the staff level, as well saying 'Here's how we together have been working on this for council benefit,'" Dollevoet said.
"Ideally, that would be the best-case scenario. The worst case scenario is they don't respond at all and we have to do this ourselves and we would be pursuing that following council's direction."
Council unanimously voted for the written notice to be issued, and further decisions will be back following this.