Regina council looking at bylaw changes to address abandoned buildings

The City of Regina is looking to make changes to its housing standard bylaw.

Changes to the bylaw would affect how bylaw officers address abandoned buildings in the City, many of which are targets for arson and squatting.

Regina council discussed the changes at Wednesday’s executive committee meeting, following up on a report from the Regina Police Service, which urged the city administration to take more responsibility in addressing the properties by stronger bylaw enforcement measures.

The biggest recommendation was to remove the 15-day period in which property owners appeal to deal with unsecured properties as quickly as possible. This option would only be applied to unsecured structures that are considered high risk for squatting, arson or other mischief or where voluntary compliance is not anticipated.

The change would allow the bylaw officers to board up unsafe buildings within the safe day of the notice. This could result in bylaw enforcement officers issuing as many as 175 unsecured structure violations per year.

The change also would include the introduction of new fines for housing standard violations, beginning at $1,500 for the first offence and scaling up to $3,500 for a third offence.

The goal of the bylaw changes is to dissuade property owners from allowing buildings to deteriorate into a state that poses a safety risk or requires the City to step in with a demolition order.

Executive committee approved the recommendation and others, which will now go to city council for approval on May 18.

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