Downtown building owner upset with City over forced repairs

While he doesn’t deny his building needs work, Jerry Kurka is not happy with the City forcing him to do repairs on the former Home Hardware building he owns on Third Avenue.

bclocalnews.com/bc_north/the … 73953.html

Yay! Another closed meeting!

If I were Jack Mussallem, I’d be pushing as many closed meetings as possible. Wouldn’t want to show up on youtube any more than necessary!

The old Home Hardware/Royal Bank building is a PERFECT example of why this kind of a law is good for the city. That building (and the old Imperial Palace building next door) are examples of shoddy overall maintenance by some of the owners in this city and are a HUGE eyesore in the downtown core, especially the home harware building and where is is centrally located (on a very busy corner).

Have some respect for the city, its residents, tourists and the businesses around you and FIX YOUR DAMN BUILDINGS or at least maintain them so they do not become so trashy looking as the Home Hardware building has become over the years…don’t even get me started on the back of that building, just disgusting.

I mean COME ON PEOPLE! How is that building ever supposed to rent itself in the shape it is in? Do people just have no pride anymore?

I feel for the owners of these buildings. I do think that these places are definately an eyesore, but I think it is a more a reflection on the economy and on the condition of the North Coast as a whole.
This council felt it important enough to give some tax breaks to various community groups, for the better of the community, why can’t the council perhaps, give these owners some incentive to put money into their buildings?
This could be good for the community by helping these owners attract tennants.

I think Jerry Kurka’s comments are right on the money, though:

“Every time we’ve asked for the street to be repaired we’re told there’s no money, but when a property owner tells the City the same thing, it’s not good enough.”

Sure, run down buildings should be fixed up; no argument there (although one week’s notice doesn’t come across as reasonable). MiG points out that the decision was made at yet another closed meeting. That’s a different issue entirely.

Mr Kurka’s situation with the old Royal Bank building illustrates how this mayor and council get it wrong by making decisions in closed meetings that should be made in public. Last year the council approved a cleanup order at a public meeting; there have been similar decisions over the years. Why was this enforcement decision made at a closed meeting and under what authority?

A while back councillor Ashley posted a link to the provisions of the community charter under which a council may close a meeting, which is section 90.

According to Northern View the decision to write to Mr Kurka was made at a closed meeting last week, and in fact there was a closed meeting on October 25. Let’s look at the grounds that the council used to close that meeting. Here’s the link to the notice on the city web site: princerupert.ca/images/edito … Notice.pdf

The notice says the public would be excluded from the meeting under 90(1)(a) and ©, which read as follows:

"90 (1) A part of a council meeting may be closed to the public if the subject matter being considered relates to or is one or more of the following:

(a) personal information about an identifiable individual who holds or is being considered for a position as an officer, employee or agent of the municipality or another position appointed by the municipality;

© labour relations or other employee relations;"

Why was a decision made at a closed meeting about the old Royal Bank building when the meeting was supposed to be closed only to discuss employment matters?

What this demonstrates to me is that Mayor Mussallem’s council is closing meetings (for legitimate reasons in some cases), but is then making decisions at those meetings that are supposed to be made at public meetings. They are, I suggest, abusing their discretion to exclude the public from attending meetings when certain decisions are made. If anyone is looking for a ‘smoking gun’ on the issue of closed meetings this is probably the closest they are going to get.

Thanks are due to Mr Kurka for publicizing the letter he received from the city.

Maybe it’s the cynic in me, but perhaps they want the meetings to be private to duck any responsibility for the way they vote.

I would have a standard tax to all businesses, but a decreased tax if the business was operating at “regular” hours. Many of the building owners had their chance to make a go of it, now they hold the building stifling anyone else from trying to invest in our community. For having a derelict building the owners should be taxed more. IMHO. Their are tonnes of business opportunities in Prince Rupert. If someone was to invest in the Gondola for Mount Hays, it could be lucrative especially during the summer months.

That and they seem to have a serious case of lawyer chill on this council, the Mayor seems to want to pass every council utterance past a lawyer to make sure nobody gets their wrist slapped.

Sure would be nice to know the ratio of closed meetings in other communities, these guys surely must lead the league in closing the doors and drawing the drapes.

As for your thought on the way they vote, perhaps the Northern View could take this opportunity to pick up the roll call that the Daily News once featured in their council coverage. Providing a list of which councillor attended meetings and listing how they voted would be a helpful little scorecard for the next election I would think.

How do we address the issue of Slum Lords ? Maybe we should ask The Mayor this exact question , he sure as hell knows who is or is known as a slum lord . Or is that another topic for a closed meeting for the city council ?

I thought the city was giveing a grant for fixing up building?

We have this disgusting eyesore Hotel that stands only as proof to all that building inspectors can be bribed. The fire escape would fall off if three people went on it at the same time. The rugs on the staircase were detached last time I worked in there. There’s water dripping onto the dirt foundation & into the beer store. The bar washrooms are beyond the worst gas station you ever saw in your life and the outside is a mass of stains, blotches, dried up puke and passed out panhandlers.
So they’re giving it a new canopy as part of downtown revitalization instead of a demolition order.

[quote=“herbie_popnecker”]We have this disgusting eyesore Hotel that stands only as proof to all that building inspectors can be bribed. The fire escape would fall off if three people went on it at the same time. The rugs on the staircase were detached last time I worked in there. There’s water dripping onto the dirt foundation & into the beer store. The bar washrooms are beyond the worst gas station you ever saw in your life and the outside is a mass of stains, blotches, dried up puke and passed out panhandlers.
So they’re giving it a new canopy as part of downtown revitalization instead of a demolition order.[/quote]

Panhandlers need shelter too you know!

No, the council was planning a revitalization tax break bylaw but it has been tabled until after a ‘workshop’ later this month. It is too late for it to come into effect next tax year.

The city seems to have had a two pronged strategy on this issue. They’ve introduced a nuisance bylaw where an owner can be ordered to fix up their property, but the tax break bylaw under which up to 50% of the cost was to be recovered through tax breaks has not been implemented. Most municipalities just exempt an owner from tax increases resulting from the improvements for two or three years.

The only comfort to the owners, if one can call it that, is that the council will evidently convene a closed meeting under cover of a discussion of “personnel matters” so that owners will be spared the embarrassment of having their buildings discussed in public, which is really where these issues should be hashed out.

In a way the council has been pro and anti business at the same time, and is perhaps alienating both sides to the issue. They’re anti business because they’ve implemented the nuisance bylaw, but pro business because they’ve passed what is probably the most generous tax break bylaw in the province, but they’ve taken a time out by holding off on giving the bylaw final approval.

The fact that our city council is targeting individual property owners in closed door meetings is just chilling. But instead you propose we further punish the small business owners that have lost their revenue sources.

If you’re so keen on investing in commercial real estate, I’m quite confident that you will find many owners of these vacant buildings that would be more than willing to negotiate a sale of their buildings rather than paying dues to the secret cabal of commercial property owners that are only interested in furthering the demise of Rupert and the further destruction of property values. Make sure you invest your life savings in the plan as many of these “Evil Owners” of derelict buildings already have.

As for the tonnes of business opportunities you see including the fabled gondola… lets see you do some spade work on putting a workable business plan together that is compelling enought to attract investors to one of the highest taxed communities in BC with some of the most severe social issues in Canada.

Take a look at where Prince Rupert ranks in terms of taxes - residential, business and corporate. Punishing business or property owners for being put out of business by a succession of city councils that refuse to make the hard decisions and cut services and taxes is just asinine.

Instead of showing real leadership and a willingness to engage the community in making hard choices about it’s future, we have a city council that hides behind closed doors and makes decisions to target individual property owners. We’ll continue to subsidize an airport ferry and write down 20 million on CityWest but don’t have money to address the social and policing issues that make being a downtown merchant virtually impossible. On top of paying some of the highest business taxes in BC, our small business and property owners also have to pay top dollar for insurance and continually pay the cost of repairing repeat vandalism that insurance won’t cover.

No instead we’ll continue to allow our senior city management to continually hand out juicy city jobs to their relatives and future inlaws and then yammer here about what business people should be doing to allow the emperor and his court to do nothing on the their overtaxed backs and the overtaxed residents of our village.

Which relatives and future inlaws are you referring to? Do you have any specific examples?

Are you telling me that another future relative has been hired by the Big Wigs again , I guess if I want a real job I am going to marry someone connected to a suit.

Pretty much Justin… that’s the way it works at City Hall under Howie and Co.

Frankly I do not feel sorry for Mr. Kurka improvements to the old home hardware site are long over due…
That building has been a disgusting eye sore for many years… Give him a time line and if he does not comply, the city should have the work done and bill him… He did nothing to the place for years, he needs to get off his ass now… Thank You City Council…

I know this is unrelated but the owner of the former Pappa Jazzies should clean his windows once in awhile! Absolutely gross, all kinds of DNA on that restaurant window ! I think one would need to wear a hasmet suit to just walk by the place ! LOL