By Keith Lacey
One of the most unsightly – and controversial – properties in the Town of Oliver has finally been cleaned up.
Two workers employed by PJR Contractors in Oliver spent all day last Thursday cleaning up the unsightly premises on Bank Avenue on the site commonly known by local residents as “the old bus depot.”
The town had recently hired another contractor to clean up the massive amounts of garbage and debris, but employees with that contractor had walked off the site telling the town cleaning up the mess was unsafe, said Diane Vaykovich, corporate officer with the Town of Oliver.
The two men who did the work last week – John Koteles and Wayne Newstead – cleaned up the majority of garbage and debris using a medium-sized backhoe, shovels, rakes and hands protected with work gloves.
The cleanup did not involve any work inside the former bus depot, which has been boarded up for more than a month.
The Town has been in discussions with the property owner – who Vaykovich would not name – for some time and he finally agreed the site would be cleaned up and he would pay the entire bill, she said.
“This property was identified as one of the many unsightly properties in town some time ago,” she noted. “Cleaning up the site is the final objective under our Good Neighbour bylaw.”
Vaykovich admitted that the Town had received numerous e-mails and phone calls relating to this particular property.
“It was bad and had to be cleaned up,” she said. “We have been working with the property owner … but these things often take some time.”
Out of all the unsightly premises the Town has listed for cleanup, Vaykovich admitted this one “was near the top.”
All of the material cleaned up from the site was brought to the local landfill in hazardous material containers, she said.
Vaykovich reiterated that the property owner would be responsible for paying all of the costs involved, including the cleanup and transporting materials to the local landfill, and local taxpayers would not be on the hook for any of the costs.
When asked what the property owner was going to do with the old bus depot building, Vaykovich said she had no idea, but he’s been warned to ensure the property remains clear of garbage and debris in the future.
One neighbour, who did not want to be identified, said the building is supposedly unsafe (not up to fire code), but it appears people are still hanging around the property with the intention of renting the site from the owner.
“I’m beginning to think our Town council and our bylaws aren’t really up to much. What is allowed within the town boundaries should be very clearly laid out and very strictly enforced.”
The neighbour said the Oliver RCMP have been very proactive in dealing with the situation and keeping people safe.
“They’re doing their job but the town sure seems to have missed the boat somewhere.”
The woman said there have been major ongoing problems with the inhabitants of this property for five years.
“If Oliver wants a prosperous, beautiful town, then put bylaws in place to reflect that, then have the intestinal fortitude to back them up.”
She said the contractors who cleaned up the property did a fantastic job, using an excavator to scrape the surface and clean up the needles and other drug-related paraphernalia.
“Heaven help us if this starts up again.”
Town Councillor Jack Bennest said his personal view is the property should be fenced and a demolition permit should be ordered.
Oliver RCMP continue to keep an eye on the property, which they said is known for drug activity.