Problem Properties

Updated: Apr 14

See our April 12 update on problem properties here On December 6, 2021 I brought forward the following motion on problem properties:


The Motion

That Administration provide a report on efforts to address residential and commercial problem properties, including:

  1. Metrics on the prevalence of problem properties and existing inter-jurisdictional efforts to address them.

  2. Options for additional enforcement tools for both tenant-occupied and vacant/derelict problem properties, including but not limited to tax subclasses.

  3. Options to expedite the redevelopment of problem properties, including partnerships with housing providers.

  4. Advocacy opportunities for Council to strengthen provincial legislation affecting problem properties.

  5. Opportunities to access federal resources related to the underlying causes of problem properties.

Due back: March 21, 2022* *CORRECTION - Delayed to April 11, 2022



Background

There are a number of reasons why I brought this motion forward, but primarily it is because over the course of my campaign, and even over the past few months since taking office, I’ve heard from Edmontonians in my ward who are extremely concerned about the increasing number of problem properties in core neighbourhoods. More specifically, people are concerned about the toll vacant and derelict properties are taking on the health and safety of community members, including vulnerable Edmontonians.


In Ward Métis, we’ve been experiencing a rash of fires and suspected arson, many of which are occurring in vacant structures in the Alberta Avenue area. Not only has this been terrifying for neighbouring residents, but it can have tragic consequences.


I want to recognize that problem properties are a symptom of a lack of affordable housing. Long-term solutions have to focus on providing safe, adequate housing, and I am confident that this council is committed to delivering on that. But, we also need to make sure we’re protecting surrounding community members and tenants from the risks associated with persistent problem properties.


Oftentimes, these properties have a recurring history of bylaw violations and non-compliance; they are often boarded up, derelict, and require frequent visits from enforcement and emergency services. They can be associated with increased fire risks and hazards, safety concerns, and illegal activities.


More broadly, there is concern among community members that the extensive efforts we have put into revitalizing some of these neighbourhoods will be lost. There is a risk that we slip backwards, and we can’t let that happen.



Moving forward, we need to find ways to incentivize the rehabilitation and redevelopment of these properties so that they are serving our communities and contributing to healthier, safer, more vibrant neighbourhoods.


 

Motion Breakdown

This motion has 5 parts. I’ll address the rationale behind each of them briefly.


That Administration provide a report on efforts to address residential and commercial problem properties, including:


1. Metrics on the prevalence of problem properties and existing inter-jurisdictional efforts to address them.

The first part of my motion speaks to metrics, and the need for us to have a greater understanding of just how pervasive this issue is.


2. Options for additional enforcement tools for both tenant-occupied and vacant/derelict problem properties, including but not limited to tax subclasses.

The second subsection speaks to tools for enforcement. I believe we need to explore all options that are within our power under the Municipal Government Act (MGA), including tools like property tax subclasses. That may be an important avenue for encouraging folks to either redevelop or sell when they’re sitting on an empty and crumbling property. I have also heard about the importance of using our development compliance tools, particularly when a builder with multiple violations is contributing to problem properties.


3. Options to expedite the redevelopment of problem properties, including partnerships with housing providers.

Third, it will be important to assess how and when we might choose to expedite the redevelopment of a property. I am particularly interested in looking at how those assets may be passed on to a group like Edmonton Community Development Company or even HomeEd, who may be able to offer safe, suitable, and affordable housing to the community.


4. Advocacy opportunities for Council to strengthen provincial legislation affecting problem properties.

The fourth point speaks to the fact that some of the issues we face with problem properties will require an intergovernmental approach. We need to have a good understanding of what levers are available to us, and what would fall outside of our jurisdiction so that we can direct our advocacy in the most effective way possible.


5. Opportunities to access federal resources related to the underlying causes of problem properties.

Finally, I believe there may be value in understanding if any federal resources or programs can be leveraged to support municipal action on problem properties.


 

Written by: Ashley Salvador





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