Chilliwack, BC (With files from Chilliwack Progress) -UPDATE – At Tuesday night’s Chilliwack City Council meeting, Council heard from the Safeway owners, Sobey’s. The owner will voluntarily tear down the Old Safeway on Main Street. That effectively defers the City from having to do the demolition themselves and pass the bill onto Sobey’s. Chilliwack Mayor Sharon Gaetz calls this “a historic moment”. The building should be down within the next 90 days.
ORIGINAL STORY – There will be a chorus of “It’s about time” roaring from Downtown merchants and shoppers and investors who have put up with this piece of urban blight for years.
The City of Chilliwack along with CEPCO (Chilliwack Economic Partners) have put their legal foot down on the old Safeway site on Main Street.
The block has the potential of being a great jewel in downtown revitalization, but the neglect, the graffiti and the foot dragging have become a joke among residents who felt that nothing would ever be done.
The concern was that Safeway’s previous ownership as well as current owners (Sobey’s), felt that if it was ignored long enough, the problem would go away.
The City of Chilliwack and CEPCO wanted accountability for the inexorable decline of the property — to no avail.
City officials confirmed to the Chilliwack Progress, that they are ready to take the next step, and a council resolution is expected as early as next week to require owners to fence the structures, with plans to demolish the buildings within 90 days, under section 74 of the Community Charter.
The City sent a bylaw package to Sobeys officials with the requirement they obtain a “vacant building regulation permit,” for the two vacant buildings on the site, as per the minimum maintenance standards bylaw that council originally passed in 2014.
The legislation the city drafted in part was to deal with precisely these sorts of situations: absentee property owners or landlords with properties falling into disrepair. These are properties that fail to contribute to the downtown plan to transform downtown Chilliwack into an “attractive and vibrant” neighbourhood.
Chilliwack Mayor Sharon Gaetz is quoted as saying that council and staff have been frustrated with the lack of movement on this issue “but if the resolution passes, then the people of this community will know that council intends to have this building gone.”
The issue is far from taken care of.