Clean up buildings, City says

Owners of derelict and abandoned buildings in Langley City could now face fines of up to $500 per day for failing to keep their properties secure.

Langley City council passed three readings of a new bylaw to regulate abandoned buildings at Monday night’s meeting.

Previously, the only rules in place were those under fire safety bylaws, and it fell to the fire department and civic staff to require a building be secured if there were health and safety issues, City staff explained.

Staff members have also tried to engage with the owners of abandoned properties in the past, to encourage them to lock up or secure their buildings.

Now, however, they’ll be able to hand down hefty fines if needed.

The new bylaw will apply to any property that is vacant for more than 30 days, and which is unsecured.

Councillor Jack Arnold asked what will happen to an owner who simply can’t find a tenant for a rental building.

Staff said this does not apply to any building that is properly secured. It applies to buildings that have been vandalized, taken over by squatters, or are a fire hazard.

The City will be able to ask that owners take actions such as boarding up windows, fencing off properties, installing alarms, or hiring security for patrols.

Potentially, the new bylaws could allow the City to order a building demolished and the debris carted away.

In May last year, during a rezoning application for some lots near Michaud Crescent, residents there complained about a group of derelict buildings, some of which had been occupied by squatters. The residents of the surrounding area were worried about vandalism and vermin.

Langley Township has also recently beefed up its regulations on abandoned buildings. Over the years, problems with vacant buildings have waxed and waned, with arson being a common complaint in houses awaiting demolition.

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