Demolition ordered for derelict motel

City council has ordered in the wrecking ball for a long-abandoned motel.

If the owner of the Willow Inn at 1656 Victoria St. fails to level the site by July 26, the city will do it for him and add the cost to his property taxes under a remedial action council unanimously approved on Monday night.

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Also previously known as the Ranch Motel and the Homeland Inn, council pulled the business licence for the spot in 2014 in answer to concerns raised by the Prince George RCMP about drug dealing and other criminal activity.

The owner was given one year to bring the site back into compliance but has failed to take any steps and the property has remained vacant, bylaw services manager Fred Crittendon told council.

A fire broke out in October 2018 and caused significant damage to the 20-unit motel. A notice was subsequently issued to have the site cleaned up but there has been no action.

"Interesting enough, today the property owner did email me saying that he wanted more time to deal with it," Crittendon said and added the owner has until July 10 to submit a request to have council review its decision.

The remediation action approved by council includes orders to demolish the damaged structure, remove all debris and level the site.

Although a process usually driven by complaints from the public, Crittendon said staff took the initiative.

"We just felt it had been vacant long enough, it is an eyesore and in the middle of downtown," he said.

Crittendon said there have been instances where the city has ended up owning a property as a result of the owner not only taking on the work but failing to pay back the subsequent bill issued by the city.

Council also issued a cleanup order for an unsightly property at 1451 North Blackburn Road. Photos show a clutter of vehicles and debris covering the site.

Crittendon said the owner did bring the site back into compliance after a similar order was issued in 2015. But beyond working towards another order, council was told there is little that can be done to deal with a repeat offender.

"In this situation, the property owner has been in fairly constant contact with our staff," Crittendon said. "However, the conversations are very similar to the conversations we had in 2015 and there's always an excuse and at some point we have to push the envelope and make sure the property gets cleaned up."

Like the motel's owner, the owner also has until July 10 to ask for a review and until July 26 to clean up the site.

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