A historic home in Grand Forks is likely to be demolished unless the owner makes the dilapidated building safe.
City council agreed late last month on a remedial action order on the abandoned two-storey, eight-bedroom house at 7136 3rd Street. The home, at the base of 3rd Street near the Kettle River, was built in 1901.
The owner has 31 days from receiving the notice to complete a demolition permit and 60 days to complete that work. The alternative is to apply for a building permit within 31 days and make the house structurally safe within 90 days of the notice.
If neither happens, the city then has the power to do the demolition itself and charge the work back to the homeowner through taxes.
“It’s been a concern, I believe, for a number of years. But most recently it’s really moved into a state of disrepair where it’s a real hazard and a real risk of collapse especially with some of the work that was taking place adjacent to it,” CAO Duncan Redfearn told council.
A bylaw staff member told council that, speaking with the owner recently, there was “considerable uncertainly” whether the work would be done. Staff noted that the electricity had been turned back on a couple of years ago in anticipation of major renovations but then nothing ever materialized.
With bowing walls and holes in the roof, an engineering report says without immediate repairs, the house should be demolished.
A report from the fire department says the site had a fire before and has “openings for air on all sides, giving it the most volatile conditions if a fire occurred, not to mention the stress of water weight and pressure against the already fragile building.”
Coun. Everett Baker said he likes to preserve the city’s heritage but for this house “those days have long gone” and with the sides of the building bowing, it’s a safety hazard to the houses around it.
“As someone who protects heritage, I think that it’s a shame that it’s got to this stage. But it is waiting to fall over. It’s just a matter of when, I think, not if,” Baker said.
Acting Mayor Chris Moslin said this remedial action order is “far too long in coming.” He added that maybe the city needs to think about this “with a couple of other buildings in our community. This is valuable property, this is infill.”
Coun. Cathy Korolek said 7136 3rd Street was in worse shape than the house next door that was torn down (at 7158 3rd Street). An agenda document shows both properties had the same registered owner, Richard Cutler, in 2020.
City council minutes from January 2004 show the council at that time took similar action declaring the building immediately next door at 7140 3rd Street was unsafe and made an order to bring the property up to building standards. It was also owned by Cutler who, at that time, was from Nelson. The building was torn down.