Saturday November 22, 2014

Jesus is Alive cleanup quandary for council

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Photo by John Cairns

This was the scene at the site of the former Jesus is Alive building on 104th Street on Monday. A fence surrounds the site of the building destroyed by fire March 5.

The Jesus is Alive building is a pile of rubble, and now the issue for the City is what to do with it.

Issues surrounding the building, which was destroyed by a massive fire March 5 and knocked down by demolition crews the next day, dominated Monday’s council meeting. Councillors contemplated what should be done about the pile of bricks that remains, as well as a request from the owner for a break on landfill costs.

Owner Olaf Peterson, of the Jesus is Alive charitable religious organization, made a request to city council to ask for reduced costs or even a complete waiver of dumping fees.

Petersen was not at Monday’s meeting, but in a written submissions to council, dated March 8, the Jesus is Alive organization believed vandalism was the reason behind the fire that destroyed the property.

The organization expressed their desire to have the property, which they described in correspondence as “the vandalized burnt building”, cleaned up. But they also wanted the City to cut them a break on costs of sending the remaining rubble and bricks to the landfill.

They said “we have done a lot of charity work in this community and we feel that because of vandalism we as an organization should not be burdened by this.”

No decision on granting an exemption on those costs was made Monday night, as councillors including, Trent Houk, wanted to know if there was a precedent with respect to this sort of situation. Councillor Brad Pattinson also wanted to know if the owners had insurance.

A major topic of interest to councillors was what to do with the rubble at the site. There was sentiment that the pile of bricks ought to be cleaned up and moved right away, regardless of whether council granted an exemption to the owners on the landfill costs.

Councillors were concerned about what might happen if the pile of rubble was allowed to sit there, possibly attracting people who might roam the property and get injured.

Houk, at one point, called the site a “potential death-trap” for a child who might wander onto it.

”Are we satisfied it’s secured and allowed to sit?” asked Pattinson.

Pattinson was assured by Deputy Fire Chief Brian Wilson that the owner has taken reasonable efforts to secure the site. A fence had been set up to surround the remaining rubble at the corner of 104th Street and Railway Avenue. However, there is no longer 24-hour security at the site, said Wilson, now the fence is up.

The answers did not seem to satisfy Pattinson, who said he wasn’t prepared to wait two weeks for the next council meeting for it to be cleaned up.

“Now it’s time to clean it up,” he said.

City administration was directed to proceed with an order for cleanup and restoration of the property.

The building, which had been used to store medical bandages and supplies for overseas shipment, was completely gutted by the fire. While the fire is deemed suspicious by authorities, the cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Traffic was disrupted in the area due to the fire. While Railway Avenue was quickly re-opened, the area was still not back to normal one week after the fire.

As of Monday morning the portion of 104th Street between Railway Ave. and 9th Avenue was still closed off by barricades. Those barricades were removed by the afternoon, however.

In their letter to the City, the Jesus is Alive organization also expressed thanks to the fire department and all those involved in helping get the fire at the building under control.

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