City of Nanaimo to demolish unsafe downtown building

NANAIMO – Former theatre has had portions of roof collapsing since early May.

The city will demolish a dangerous downtown building after the building’s owner indicated it is not interested in dealing with the issue.

The old Bay Theatre at 91 Chapel Street has suffered at least two major roof collapses since early May, leaving the exterior block walls without support. An engineering study deemed the building unsafe in early June, and barricades have been set up around the building to keep pedestrians a safe distance. The report said the walls could come down even in a strong wind.

B.C. Hydro cut power to the building May 8, and council authorized city staff to proceed with a tender for demolition Monday.

“It’s a huge concern for all of us and it has resulted in partial closures of some of the streets around it,” said Mayor John Ruttan.

Toby Seward, Nanaimo’s director for development, said the city has met with representatives of Loft Ministries, the building’s owner, and their engineering consultant, and there has been no indication there is any interest in dealing with the problem.

The cost of the demolition will be put on the taxes of this site if they do not pay it, and eventually it would go to a tax sale, again, if they do not pay it, or there is a potential purchaser out there who may pay out the cost,” said Seward. “But at the end of a three-year period if the taxes are still unpaid then it would go to tax sale.”

Council is expected to approve a contract to demolish the building at the next council meeting in July.

The owner currently has the building up for private sale in its ‘as is’ condition.

Seward added that city engineers are looking at ways to stabilize the building, but noted that it will likely have to be demolished anyway because of its poor state.

Langley-based Loft Ministires purchased the building in 2007 with the intention of using it as a church. According to a city report, it has sat mostly unused since the purchase. Neglect, mold and mildew were cited as reasons for the structural decay.

The building was originally built in 1972.

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