A Parksville four-plex that was recently the scene of a drug bust in July has been declared a nuisance property by city council.
At its regular council meeting on Aug. 8, council unanimously passed motions to declare 354 Island Hwy. West a nuisance property. The property owner has been directed to abate all nuisance activities within 30 calendar days of council’s declaration.
With a nuisance property, the city is able to recoup some of the costs associated with RCMP, bylaw enforcement staff, fire departments staff, vehicles and other city-owned equipment required to respond to any future complaints at the property.
The four-plex at 354 Island Hwy. West was part of a drug bust on July 10, according to Oceanside RCMP. It was reported that police arrested three men during the course of a search of two units at the suspected drug house in Parksville.
During Wednesday’s council meeting, three nearby residents complained to council about the issues with 354 Island Hwy. West. The owner of the property, Brian Reimer, also spoke as a delegation to council.
Reimer, who lives in Nanoose Bay, apologized to council before saying he didn’t know it was a nuisance property. Reimer also said he’d been “lax” about checking the suites.
“As a landlord, you never hear. It’s just the nature of the beast,” Reimer said.
Following the drug bust, Reimer said he had a meeting with Oceanside RCMP officers Cpl. Jesse Foreman and Cpl. Don Helgeson.
“I was shocked at the amount of police involvement with this property,” said Reimer.
Coun. Mary Beil said she was “somewhat surprised” to hear that Reimer didn’t realize how bad the issues were considering he lives in Nanoose Bay.
“I would just like to say landlords have the responsibility to inform their tenants of proper process that they are coming to inspect; be it for fire, sanitation, hygiene to see that your investment is being maintained to a reasonable standard.”
According to city documents, the property has been the subject of a number of complaints from both city staff and council members over a period of several years. Since 2014, five bylaw complaints have been received including three in 2018 to date.
The report from Keeva Kehler, director of administrative services, also says Parksville Volunteer Fire Department records show the department has responded to four incidents at this property since August, 2016, including a structure fire, an open-burning complaint, a false alarm and a medical response. RCMP records also show the detachment has attended the property 86 times since 2007 with 18 incidents in 2018 to date.
Kehler said that while the report was written on July 20, there was an incident on Aug. 1. She said Reimer alluded to a death on the property “which was the result of an overdose” that required the attendance of PVFD, RCMP, BC Ambulance Service and bylaw officers.
“Just for that one incident alone, if this property had been declared a nuisance property already we would be levying $858 to the property owner.”
She also said that by declaring the property a nuisance “actually has no financial implications if the nuisance ceases.”
Coun. Kirk Oates said that considering there have been 87 complaints to RCMP, Reimer’s “assertion that it comes as a shock to (him) rings really, really hollow with me.”
By voting to declare this as a nuisance property, Oates said, it would send a message to “all slum landlords that this is not tolerated in the City of Parksville.”
Reimer said the four-plex now has two elderly tenants and he plans to not rent to anybody under the age of 50 as it’s “not worth the hassle.” He said he has one unit to rent as the tenant recently died.
Beil said she’d recently read about the Oceanside RCMP arresting a 52-year-old man.
“I think drug dealers could be any age, so I think it’s really more than age. Although you may be better off with certain ages.”
Coun. Kim Burden said Reimer needs “to step up (his) game in terms of being a responsible landlord.” He said Reimer needs to make some decisions on the property.
“But allowing it to continue in the vein it’s been operating is not an option,” Burden said.
Reimer said he’s tried to sell the property before, but he says because it’s zoned for tourist commercial, it’s been difficult to sell. He also said he’s dropped the price $200,000 below the appraised value, but in order to sell he has to “have a positive response from staff” about rezoning the property.
Beil asked Reimer if he had actually brought the issue of rezoning to city staff to make a formal application. Reimer said he had just been going on what “real estate people have said.”