Owners of Richmond nuisance property given reprieve

The owners of a rundown and cluttered property in south Richmond have been given two months to clean up and secure the buildings onsite.

At a special council meeting on Monday, council voted to allow the reprieve, but the mayor told the owner he’s been given a chance till Feb. 1 and he’s let the city down in the past.

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“Feb. 2, the city will be there,” said Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie.

Staff had recommended council order the house on No. 3 Road south of Finn Road to be declared a nuisance and demolished and some councillors expressed their skepticism whether the owners could clean it up within two months.

Coun. Linda McPhail pointed out the property was before council between 2011 and 2013 with the same issues, adding that it seems to be a pattern of behaviour.

“Are we going to be seeing you again in a couple years because I think that would be a shame,” she asked Michael Fairhurst, who owns the property with his mother, Verna Fairhurst, adding the project is a large personal and financial commitment.

Fairhurst told council that he has been trying to clean up the property over the past few years, but “it is a lot of work, I will admit.”

Coun. Carol Day suggested the city clean and board up the house and surroundings and put the cost on the owner’s tax bill, expressing doubt that Fairhurst could do it on his own.

The 10-acre farm property at 12620 No. 3 Rd., contains several sheds and outbuildings plus a three-storey house, which has been vacant since at least 2011, according to a city report.

The house has been infested with rats and squirrels and has mould and several broken windows. A recent windstorm felled a tree, which now rests against the front of the house.

The order included getting rid of overgrown bushes, derelict vehicles, tires, car parts, plastic containers, appliances, a shopping cart and other non-farm equipment and items.

While the report notes the owners made some effort to clean up the property, and were even given an extension, city inspections in August and October determined the site hadn’t been cleaned up and is still not in compliance with the unsightly bylaw.

But, on Monday, Fairhurst and his lawyer outlined the work scheduled for the property, including a tree removal company and a cleanup crew to get rid of garbage.

Fairhurst said he plans eventually to restore the house, estimating it will cost between $50,000 and $100,000 as he plans to do much of the work himself. This includes pulling down the addition at the back, which is falling down, but keeping the original house, built by Richmond pioneer Charlie Oldfield in 1906.

He said he is actively farming the property.

Coun. Harold Steves pointed out that some of the items in the photos are farm equipment.

“We don’t want the city going in and taking someone’s valuable equipment and taking it to the dump,” Steves said.

“It’s clutter and it’s unsightly, but it isn’t necessarily stuff that shouldn’t be there,” Steves added.

In addition, there’s a lot of blackberry brambles and other vegetation that needs a landscaper to clean up, he added.

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