“They’re going through the contents, they’re leaving provocative signs, they’re menacing the neighourhood. The neighbours say in some respects they find it more fearful to be in the neighbourhood now the house has been boarded up than when it was operating,” LaBerge told council.
LaBerge said the City first started receiving complaints about the unsightly property located off Fifth St. in June 2019 where it was documented people were living in tents and recreation vehicles in the yard.
Garbage, stripped bicycles and furniture were among a long list of items pilled all over the property.
He said the site was substantially cleaned late in 2021 only to fall back into disrepair.
LaBerge noted the property was flagged for potential nuisance property designation early this year, but said the task was deferred pending ongoing RCMP investigations at the home which concluded in June.
While the property owners intend to sell the home, LaBerge said it was still important to move forward at this time with the nuisance designation.
“Just to ensure that the property owners realize the full extent of impact to the neighbourhood,” LaBerge said.
Council was told by the property owners that once the home’s insurance claim is resolved and the home restored they will put the place up for sale.
Susan Rauch told councillors her disabled daughter previously lived in the home and was taken advantage of and had irresponsible people move in.
“It’s a really sad situation and yes I understand that the neighbours are fed up and we’re fed up too,” Rauch said. “We’re going to sell as soon as possible, but the insurance doesn’t know exactly when it will be fixed up.”
Her husband noted they are in the process of getting cost estimates to haul away garbage and other debris from the property.
The City has the ability to recoup costs incurred through its nuisance bylaw via the courts or attaching the expenses as part of property taxation payments.
A report issued to the City by Nanaimo RCMP Supt. Lisa Fletcher stated 52 Athletic St. has been the source of 40 police service calls since the start of 2021.
She stated about 35 per cent of the calls for police assistance could be considered nuisance related.
She noted multiple cases of violence and illicit drug seizures occurred at the property since Jan. 21, 2021.
Nearby resident Dale Olsen is a longtime Railway Ave resident who said people associated with 52 Athletic St. have been a constant source of local anguish.
He told NanaimoNewsNOW he’s thankful action is being taken.
“I think that’s good news for the entire neighbourhood….our police department is under pressure with the restrictions they have — hopefully this can be used as a precedent in other areas.”
Olsen said constant traffic of transients and unfamiliar faces at the property has had the neighbourhood on edge.
“With the type of clientele coming in and out of there brought a lot of stolen property throughout the neighbourhood, our house included.”
On the plus side, Olsen said the ordeal has brought their neighbours closer together with additional communication and people looking out for each other’s property.
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