After almost six months and several requests for extensions from the owners, the City of Castlegar is now taking matters into their own hands. City council voted Oct. 17 to begin cleanup of the former Crossroads Printing building that was destroyed by fire on May 4.
On July 18, council passed a remedial action resolution requiring the owner of the property, Michael Vecchio, to remove the rubble from the fire-damaged building and to either demolish or remove the concrete building foundation or fill in the basement with back fill. The owner was given 30 days to comply.
On July 25, McEwan & Co. Law Corporation, on behalf of Vecchio, requested that council reconsider the resolution and requested an extension to Sept. 30 to complete the remediation. The request gave the reason as, “We have been told that an environmental assessment is required before clean up can start. There are no available contractors who can do this with in 30 days.” The owner was then given until Sept. 30 to complete the work.
On Oct. 3, city council granted the owner a second extension to the deadline at Vecchio’s request. Connie Vecchio spoke on behalf of Michael, and gave the difficulty in acquiring a hazardous materials inspection and difficulty in acquiring the funds to cover the $84,500 in estimated cleanup costs as the reasons for the delay in starting the work. The extension gave the Vecchio family until Oct. 17 to begin the clean up and until Oct. 31 to complete it.
Then the City received a letter from Connie Vecchio dated Oct. 12 informing council that “our family will be unable to remediate the property located at 1013 Second St. Reclamation and clean-up efforts are unable to be started by the October 17, 2016 deadline set out in the bylaw (Octobet 3, 2016 council meeting) concerning the property.”
At the Oct. 17 city council meeting, the contract for the site cleanup was awarded to Norhaz Solutions, Inc., which includes removal of asbestos materials for a cost of $64,312 plus GST. According to accompanying documents, Norhaz Solutions was the lowest bidder and has “the equipment and the necessary civil and hazardous abatement experience required to complete the work.” Norhaz Solutions submitted a bid at the request of Connie Vecchio.
“I don’t want the rubble to sit either but it is a huge mess that must and will be dealt with accordingly. The six months it has taken is due to the hazardous and environmental issue created by the hasty demolition,” said Vecchio, who confirmed that her family will pay the bill.
Work was expected to begin approximately 10 days after the contract was awarded and take about one week to complete.
All costs of the remediation will be recovered from the property owner as debt and collected in the same manner and with the same remedies as property taxes.
Connie Vecchio has filed a notice of claim against the City of Castlegar in relation to this matter. Phil Markin, director of development services, says the city’s lawyers are dealing with the suit.