Heather Wright Photo
Contractors pick up pieces of insulation around an Oil Springs home which was torn down for building code violations recently.
A homeowner in Oil Springs is facing a $15,000 bill after a house on Aniline Street was demolished because it didn’t meet Ontario’s building code.
Mayor Ian Veen says neighbours have been complaining about the homeowner for years and the municipality has been working with county building officials to try to get the property cleaned up.
Corrine Nauta, Lambton County’s Chief Building Official, says the problem began in 2011 when the village and the county went to the home are removed several cars and loads of garbage from the yard after neighbourhood complaints.
They’ve been working with the homeowner ever since, and in 2014, Nauta says the county got a court order to go into the home. There, they found “deplorable conditions” and structural problems.
Nauta says generally, the county tries to work with homeowners who have problems maintaining their buildings, but in this case, the homeowner didn’t make contact with the county after the order was made to repair the problems.
After 30-days without contact, the village and county decided to move ahead with the demolition.
“I think it is extreme (to demolish the house),” says Veen. “At the end of the day, people who live around it are probably tired of living with it day in and day out. You have to have consideration for their neighbours…and it was pretty bad.
Nauta says in the last year the county has issued “six or seven” orders to destroy homes – including one in Petrolia – which weren’t fit to live in. All had major structural issues or mould.
“We don’t just tear them down because the paint is peeling inside,” says Nauta. “It has to be pretty deplorable inside…no one should have been living in there.”
Nauta says many homeowners who have building code violations which are fixed. “We give extensions all the time, we work with them,” she says.
But there are a few who ignore the orders many times because they can’t afford to do the work. “When people aren’t willing to work with you, we have to follow the regulations under the building act…
“It isn’t fun … it makes you almost sick that you’re doing this; this is what they work for this is what they own. But it gets to the point where you have to protect them.”
Nauta estimates removing the home costs about $15,000 for the demolition, clean up, county officials, and OPP officers who are there on standby. The municipality initially foots the bill but the costs are added to the tax bill with the homeowner expected to pay the cost.
If they don’t, the land is sold under a tax sale and the municipality recoups its money.
Veen says Oil Springs is already in the process of putting the property up for tax sale. The homeowners have until May to pay the fees or the land will be sold.
“We try to recover our money, sometimes we do, sometimes we don’t,” says Veen. “It is unfortunate that it happens…No one ever wants to see anyone lose their house.”