Problem properties pose a threat to public safety; their owners or managers neglect the fundamental duties of
The impacts of derelict housing have been well-documented in both the popular and academic literature. While most studies are based in U.S. locations, there are a few Canadian reports that speak to this issue.
Researchers have demonstrated the public costs associated
with problem properties by tracking the extraordinary
demands they create on government services. These include:
• Bylaw (inspection, enforcement, illegal dumping)
• Emergency/First Responders (call outs; hospitalizations)
• Police (call outs, enforcement, court attendance);
• Fire (calls out for arson, accidental fire and other
• Health (inspection, enforcement)
• Law (enforcement, legal proceedings)
Municipalities also experiences losses in uncollected and
suppressed property tax revenue and can incur the cost of
demolition (which may or may not be recouped upon sale of
Researchers have also calculated the cost of derelict housing
and problem properties to neighbours and community
members. Their direct costs include:
• Decreased property values, depending on proximity to
the derelict house;
• Increased insurance fees, depending on numbers of
• Increased out of pocket expenses for insurance
• Decreased health (due to proximity to needle debris, toxic
materials associated with drug production, presence of
• Decreased peace of mind (fear, anxiety, stress,
When derelict houses are renovated (as opposed to
shuttered), there are statistically significant decreases in all
classifications of crime (violent and non-violent) in adjacent
properties, as well as increases in nearby property values.
Edmonton CDC’s new Project 10 initiative (a commitment to purchase 10 problem properties in the McCauley and Alberta Avenue district), began in earnest with the purchase of 10741 93 Street.
10741 93 Street in Spring 2020
For years, this property had been identified by neighbourhood sources as a centre of drug activity, and over that time, many public services have been actively seeking opportunities to shut the building down.
Finally, in January 2020, Alberta Health Services was able to register a notice of “Health Hazard” on title, and the property eventually went into foreclosure. Edmonton CDC saw the potential in this property, and we made soon made the decision to purchase.
The property is, after all, in a fantastic location: It is within walking distance of Commonwealth Recreation Centre, Stadium LRT station, and of course, the beautiful Giovanni Caboto Park!
Our excitement was bolstered once more when, shortly after purchasing the first property, we were able to purchase another nearby at 10727 93 Street.
10727 93 Street in Spring 2020
The building on the site, also known to be a drug house, had burned to the ground earlier this year, sadly also burning the lovely two-storey home adjacent to it.
The Edmonton CDC is currently working with local builder Skil-Tec to create three units of housing on each property. All condos will be sold at- or below-market to encourage families to move to the neighbourhood.
If you are interested in learning more about the condos, please send your contract information to Karen Gingras, Director of Neighbourhood Development.
When properties are abandoned or neglected, there are demonstrable negative impacts, not just on nearby property values, but also in terms of public health and safety, tax revenues, and more.
Due to the multifaceted challenges of neighbourhood development and the significant number of such properties in urban core neighbourhoods, it can take years to turn properties like these into new developments that have a positive impact.
Many of these properties exist in communities with aging infrastructure—therefore, redeveloping those properties into the sort that will contribute to neighbourhood revitalization will require cross-sector partnerships, government funding, private sector investment, and collaboration with developers and builders.
The CDC is actively pursuing such long-term strategies, but right now, we have chosen to address the problem on a one-property-at-a-time basis through our “Project 10” initiative.
Through engaging with residents and business owners in urban core neighbourhoods, and also through engaging in our own research, the CDC has set out over the next 12 to 24 months to identify and purchase 10 properties that can be transformed into neighbourhood assets.
The CDC is maintaining a database, co-created with community stakeholders, that identifies problem properties, current zoning, price, foreclosure status, lot size, proximity to other similar properties, and other factors, which allows us to prioritize candidate properties for purchase and redevelopment.
Because the real estate market can be unpredictable, we’re also listening to our community partners and experts for opportunities we may not have anticipated, such as the innovative community-CDC partnership that supported the McCauley Development Co-Op’s purchase of The Piazza strip mall.
When the CDC makes the decision to purchase a property, we strive to engage with community members to identify development options for that location that will bring about positive change for the community’s economic and social well-being. Any small profits made will be reinvested in purchasing and developing future properties.
For more information about this or other initiatives of the Edmonton CDC, please email us at email@example.com or call us at 780.306.4456. And, for the latest news on this and other initiatives of the CDC, please visit our blog and follow us on Facebook and Twitter!