Boyle McCauley News

Since 1979 • April-May 2023 • Circulation 5000

New Strategy and Dedicated Resources Added to Help Address Problem Properties

Before and after images of a recent clean-up coordinated by the Problem Properties Team (PPT). City of Edmonton

Problem properties are much more than abandoned houses with overgrown weeds. They are magnets for repeat criminal activity, place a burden on emergency services and pose a significant public health risk. Their presence in a community generates frequent and serious complaints and safety concerns.

Problem properties have been a long-standing challenge throughout Edmonton. That’s why, in early 2020, the City of Edmonton initiated an 18-month human-centered research project to gather ideas and lived experiences from Edmontonians in some of the hardest hit neighbourhoods. Out of this came the 2023 – 2026 long-term strategic approach for problem properties and dedicated funding to tackle the issues associated with these places.

“After 18 months of research and community engagement, the development of a robust long-term strategic approach and the creation of a funded centralized model for administering the Problem Property Initiative, the City of Edmonton and its stakeholders are now, more than ever, positioned to address problem properties,” said Justin Lallemand, specialized program coordinator at the City of Edmonton.

The Initiative now includes:

Dedicated resources
Neighbourhoods with high concentrations of problem properties and derelict buildings will be assigned dedicated Municipal Enforcement Officers to proactively identify and quickly address problem properties before they escalate. A dedicated Community Safety Liaison will also join Officers on inspections to bring an enhanced social justice lens and will provide direct support to people staying in or employed at problem properties.

Centralized office
A newly created centralized office serves as the key point of contact for the public, community, and City Council regarding all aspects of problem properties. This team will continue to develop relationships, attend community meetings, and co-create solutions based on data as well as the specific needs of the communities to which they are assigned.

Coordinated responses
The Problem Property Initiative coordinates the efforts of multiple City departments, the Edmonton Police Service, Alberta Health Services, and the Government of Alberta to present a united, consistent approach to the complex issues associated with problem properties.

Unique approach to unsecured vacant properties
The Community Property Safety Team (CPST) is a bold, innovative, and proactive approach to reducing fire risk at unsecured, vacant buildings. Using provincial legislation, the CPST holds landowners accountable to secure unsecured, vacant buildings that pose a fire risk to the surrounding community.

Streamlined path to demolition
A more focused, unified approach to streamline the path to demolition has been designed to take bolder action in addressing situations where owners have not taken accountability for their problem properties. This process prioritizes and expedites demolitions where required.

Potential tax subclasses
The City is studying the potential to establish a tax subclass for derelict properties. This subclass would enable the City to charge a higher tax rate to properties that are declared derelict, hopefully helping to discourage neglect and ensuring owners take responsibility for their property.

Stay tuned to your neighbourhood news and social media for an invitation to attend one of the City’s Meet and Greet Events where the Problem Property Initiative will share information about its strategic plan, dedicated teams, and new resources; and continue to gather information from community members about their lived experiences with problem properties.

*Resource and contacts *

Photos: Before and after images of a recent clean-up coordinated by the Problem Properties Team (PPT). The property had been destroyed by fire and left in a state that presented a significant and unsecured hazard to the surrounding neighbourhood. PPT intervened, removing approximately 11 extra-large bins of debris and backfilling with approximately 20 dump truck loads of dirt.

Information from the City of Edmonton.

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