Major demolition of the City Centre Motel in downtown Castlegar began Thursday morning, following two court rulings which upheld an order issued last year by city council to have the dilapidated structure torn down.
City council ordered that the motel be demolished in February 2010 after city staff inspected the building and found numerous building code violations and safety hazards.
The hotel owners, Susan and Basil McLaren, challenged that order, however, and the issue was tied up in court for months.
The B.C. Supreme Court ruled in November that the city was justified in issuing the order, opening the door for the demolition to take place.
“In this case, council had before it considerable evidence that the property was unsanitary and in poor repair, and … the city had made unsuccessful efforts over a number of years to compel Ms. McLaren to comply with city by-laws to clean up the property,” Justice Lynn Smith wrote in her decision.
“It also had evidence of multiple complaints with regard to the property as an unsightly nuisance. There was evidence that the decrepit state of parts of the buildings could pose a hazard to the persons who were apparently living there, or to others who might gain entry. There was no evidence before council that the owner proposed to fix up the property, or to sell it.”
(To see photos of the condition of the building last November, see this previous Castlegar News story.)
The owners filed a last-ditch appeal but on March 21 the B.C. Court of Appeal upheld with the original decision.
The city and the McLarens have been at odds over the property, located on 2nd Street just east of Columbia Avenue, for more than 10 years.
Mayor Lawrence Chernoff has said the property owners will be responsible for the cost of the demolition.
Video of the demolition process can be seen at the Castlegar News Facebook Page.