Wednesday April 16, 2014

Council draws line in sand for McGowan property

City councillors have drawn a line in the sand when it comes to extending the fate of a nuisance North Kamloops property that has plagued the neighbourhood for years.

Lynda Watt returns to council chambers Tuesday to ask the City to reconsider taking action on her property at 356 McGowan Ave.

She was given a final extension of 45 days in November and told the City would take action if the home wasn't cleaned up by then.

Councillors contacted by The Daily News on Sunday say Watt has had more than enough time to resolve the matter.

"I think it may be necessary for the City to do the work for her," said Coun. Nancy Bepple. "We'll hear her arguments on Tuesday, but I think it's important that there's some resolution."

The house has been vacant since a fire in 2008, but with half its windows broken, pigeons and feral cats have taken up residence amid piles of garbage. Apparent hoarding has been attributed to mental-health issues.

McGowan residents told council the property wasn't properly kept up before the fire.

Coun. Marg Spina voted in favour of giving Watt extensions in the past, saying she hoped Watt could find the means to take care of the property.

At this point, Spina believes the City has been more than generous and the neighbourhood more than patient, she said.

"We can't have one set of rules for one group of people and one set of rules for others," she said. "Now it's up to (Watt). She's had more than a year and we have to let the process wind its way through now."

Residents hope council is true to its word. Nadine Terziani said pigeons fly in and out of the home despite plywood covering most of the windows. There's also a smell during summer.

"We're hoping that it gets cleaned up," she said. "Would anyone else be allowed to go on like this with their home?"

Maurice Ferland has lived next door to the 356 McGowan since August. He feels sorry for Watt, but understands his neighbours have had enough.

He said the home does bring down the property value of those around it.

"At first it wasn't so bad, but now you see (the plywood) starting to fall down," said Ferland.

Watt's extension concludes at the end of January. Coun. Ken Christian believes the house should be demolished and the lot sold. Or someone who can clean it up should purchase the property.

Coun. Pat Wallace said she's in favour of tearing down the home.

Watt could not be reached for comment.

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