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Edmonton’s Problem Property Initiative Expands Derelict Building Demolitions

Before a demolition coordinated by DARC in Parkdale. Supplied by the City of Edmonton

Before and after images of a demolition coordinated by DARC in Parkdale.. Supplied by Civida Residents of a central Edmonton community say they are feeling safer now that a long-standing derelict property has been demolished and the lot cleared of debris thanks to Edmonton’s Problem Property Initiative (PPI).

“The house was always derelict and falling apart and it just got worse and worse,” says Jeremiah Valleau, who also expressed feeling anxious for his personal safety living next to the Parkdale property since 2015. “The roof caved in. I’m sure it was full of mould and, for whatever reason, no one was willing to take care of the property. Living next to it, I noticed myself feeling a lot of anxiety. Fire was always a big fear. I was always worried about someone starting a fire. It was two metres away from my house and the main exit for my basement renters.”

Demolition of the derelict home, which included removing the structure, cleaning debris, and returning the property to level grade, took crews approximately one week.

John Bale, Operational Supervisor of Safety Codes Compliance who led the demolition project team with the City of Edmonton, says it’s all about engaging with communities and keeping neighbourhoods safe. “Our primary focus is on public safety and the well being of communities. Derelict properties are very unsafe structurally, but they also attract unwanted activity like illegal dumping and squatting which can lead to fire related issues.”  

The Problem Property Initiative coordinates the efforts of multiple City departments, the Edmonton Police Services, Alberta Health Services, and the Government of Alberta to address the issues associated with problem properties. Each organization brings different regulations and enforcement approaches to the initiative’s teams. 

One key team in the initiative - the Demolition Assessment and Response Committee, or “DARC” - is leading the City’s approach to the demolition of larger unsafe structures. 

DARC combines the regulations and enforcement approaches of four different City areas: Community Standards & Neighbourhoods, Fire Rescue Services, Legal Services, and Safety Codes. The committee identifies and prioritizes properties for demolition and uses the most effective legislation available to expedite demolitions where required.

The recent demolition in Parkdale was DARC’s first large-scale project. The property had caused considerable concern for neighbours, repeated calls for service, and had been dealt with by various PPI partners for several years. Ultimately, it was identified by DARC as unsafe to the surrounding community. And in December 2023, DARC, led by Safety Codes, demolished the house and backfilled the basement with dirt.

After years of such dealings, residents like Jeremiah Valleau are happy that something could finally be done. 

“For a long time it felt like the City wasn’t able to do anything about these properties,” he said. “It’s good to know that’s changed. And it’s good to know someone’s listening. The demolition company did a good job. Everyone in the neighbourhood was so happy to see the fences go up and the house come down. It was a glorious day. It was a joy to watch it come down.” 

The property is surrounded by other residential properties and having this derelict structure removed has improved the safety of the surrounding community. 

In all cases where the Problem Property Initiative facilitates the demolition of unsafe buildings, the costs incurred by the City are transferred to the property owner.

This work is part of Edmonton’s Problem Property Initiative. In December of 2022, City Council approved permanent funding to implement the City’s long-term strategy to address properties that cause frequent and serious safety concerns and complaints to the City.

Keep in Touch with Edmonton’s Problem Property Initiative

Edmontonians can now access several resources to stay informed about how the City’s Problem Property Initiative and its partners are addressing problem properties. 

An electronic newsletter - The Problem Property Initiative News - has been launched and is available for anyone interested to subscribe to get news delivered directly to their email inbox. Residents can sign up by visiting edmonton.ca/ProblemProperties

To learn more about the Problem Property Initiative or to report a problem property, visit edmonton.ca/ProblemProperties or call 311.

Information provided by the City of Edmonton.

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