Derelict and vacant properties target of new city strategy to protect 1st responders, neighbours

Derelict and vacant properties target of new city strategy to protect 1st responders, neighbours

The city is trying a new strategy to deal with vacant and derelict homes that are deemed problematic.

It requires owners to fence off those properties and put up signs in an effort to better protect first responders and allow neighbours to report breaches or suspicious activity.

It's the same strategy that's already used to deal with the aftermath of illegal marijuana grow-ops.

- MORE CALGARY NEWS | Calgary city council votes to rebate 'tax room' in 2017

- MORE CALGARY NEWS | 13 years after ballot stuffing scandal, former city council member Margot Aftergood will run again

Wayne Brown, who runs the city's Coordinated Safety Response Team, says the change will benefit both residents and first responders, noting there is a "higher incidence of fires in a vacant structure."

"We do have to have a history on that particular house of vagrant activity, a lot of bylaw calls," he said of the process.

"A lot of times there's unreported fires in those houses. There can be health issues, mould, etcetera. With that culmination of evidence, then we act on those properties."

As part of the initiative, owners will be required under the Municipal Governance Act to fix or demolish derelict houses within a set time frame.

So far this year, 15 orders have been issued to property owners under the new strategy.

Those facing orders under the Municipal Government Act are also required to put up signs to warns first responders of the risks inside the homes and to help neighbours to report breaches or suspicious activity.

"It's neglect, in my opinion," said Brown. "If you have a property in the city of Calgary, occupied or otherwise, you should be looking after it. You should be responsible for that property."