Enforcement measures necessary to tackle problem properties
By Erica Marie
The city of Edmonton introduced the Community Property Safety Team (CPST) earlier this year to implement a stronger approach to addressing problem properties.
In a community and public services committee, the city council heard testimonies of the residents’ traumatic experiences living around derelict properties. The CPST pilot project was launched from this meeting and will run until the end of 2023.
Problem Properties are a Safety Issue
The majority of problem properties are located in the city’s northeast, where there has also been a large increase in fires due to unsecured vacant structures in 2021. Four fire-related deaths were reported in the fall of last year. Whether intentionally or not, fires evolving from these properties are caused by illegal occupants of vacant structures.
The city defines an unsecured vacant structure as:
“A vacant building is considered unsecured if the structure has any openings that allow for unauthorized entry, such as windows or doors. A building is considered unsecured if there is an unauthorized person inside, if there is evidence of unauthorized people having been in the building, or if there is a way for an authorized person to access the building. This applies to both residential and commercial buildings.”
Photos: The aftermath of a fire on a property in McCauley purchased by the ECDC (P10 #2: 10727 93 Street)
The CPST’s Approach
The CPST initiative is a proactive approach to properly secure these structures and decrease the risk of fires on these properties. It is designed to create a significant cost to absentee or unresponsive property owners. The team can now enforce compliance from landlords by billing or taxing them for fencing, boarding, and on-site security. Once the owners ensure proper security measures are in place, their property will be placed on a monitoring list to ensure compliance is maintained.
What Can You Do to Help?
Report an unsecured vacant property:
– Call: 3-1-1
Fire Prevention Officer will open an investigation into the complaint within three (3) business days of the initial call.
The identity of the person or persons making the complaint is entirely confidential.
An organization dedicated to revitalizing neighbourhoods, the Edmonton Community Development Company (ECDC) acquired ten problem properties to demolish and build new homes for families to purchase. Their Project 10 initiative also derived from a discussion with community members demanding change in their neighbourhoods. They want to see these derelict properties torn down and for more investments to be made in their communities.
Problem properties pose an array of complex issues that affect the safety and vibrancy of a community. While there are still other factors to address surrounding derelict properties, such as crime and drug activities, the CPST initiative’s enforcement measures are a step in the right direction.