Nanaimo takes next step to demolish unsafe building

NANAIMO – The city will demolish an unsafe building downtown because no action was taken by the owner.

The city will demolish an unsafe building downtown because no action was taken by the owner.

Under a remedial action order issued by city council June 10, the owner of the old Bay Theatre at 91 Chapel St., which has suffered at least two major roof collapses since early May, had until Thursday to either make the building structurally sound and safe or demolish the building before the city stepped in to do the work.

In early June, an engineering study deemed the building unsafe – due to the roof collapse, the study determined the walls are in danger of falling onto Chapel and Skinner streets – and to protect the public, the city has set up barricades around the building and closed a portion of Skinner Street and a section of sidewalk and adjacent parkade on Chapel Street.

A report that went before council last week recommended that if the city is required to take action, the safety issue should be addressed by removing the building because staff believe it is not feasible to stabilize the remaining structure.

Dale Lindsay, the city’s building inspections manager, said the building’s owner, Langley-based Loft Ministries, has not taken any action and on Monday (July 22), council will pick a contractor to proceed with demolition work.

“The 30 days passed without them doing anything on the property,” he said.

The tender for demolition, issued last month, closed Friday and the city received four bids, ranging in price from $181,111 from Don Saywell Developments Ltd. to $577,500 from Stone Pacific Contracting Ltd. These tender bid results still must be verified by city staff.

In the tender, the city asked that certain parts of the demolition be completed by Aug. 2, Lindsay said.

“Our priority is to open Skinner Street as soon as possible,” he said.

The cost of the demolition will be put on the taxes of the site if the owner does not pay the bill and if the taxes are not paid, eventually the property would go to tax sale.

Loft Ministries bought the building in 2007 with the intention of using it as a church, but according to a city report, it sat mostly unused since that time.

Neglect, mould and mildew were cited as reasons for the structural decay.

Calls to Loft Ministries for comment on the building’s state of repair went unreturned by deadline.