City to discuss how to deal with large debris piles in Winnipeg

How to get massive piles of debris cleaned up will be discussed at an upcoming City of Winnipeg committee meeting. As conversations about covering costs happen at City Hall, those who live near building fire scenes are hoping for a solution, sooner than later.

More than a month after it caught fire in a massive industrial blaze in early July, a structure on Sutherland Avenue remains a pile of twisted steal, charred brick and concrete.

Next week, the City of Winnipeg Community Services committee will be discussing ways to deal with burned out buildings.

A motion has been brought forward to council that would force property owners to clean up sites within six months. If the city needs to step in, then the clean up costs would be added to owner’s property taxes, and if necessary, a tax sale.

But a city report says with demolition and clean up costs sometimes higher than a property’s value, there’s no guarantee the city will get its money back.

However, Cindy Gilroy, the Daniel McIntrye Ward councillor who put the idea to a motion, says there has to be action.

Cindy Gilroy says the City of Winnipeg must act to clean up the debris to ensure the city has healthy core and older neighbourhoods.(Photo Credit: Morgan Modjeski, CityNews)

“I was frustrated. I think the city knows we have to act on this,” said Gilroy. “Just saying that we’re gunna’ sit there and do noting is not a response.”

Gilroy feels the report didn’t deliver as anticipated but hopes to convince fellow councillors to deal with the sites. She says it’s worth it for the city to act, even if there’s no guaranteed return.

“If we want to create better communities within our older aging neighbourhoods, we’re going to have to put the investment in, and that is just the reality. This isn’t something that’s fun. It’s not a new splash pad, a brand new park, a play structure. No. It’s actually cleaning up rubble, but it’s something that needs to be done and it’s the city’s responsible.”

Gilroy encourages those who have been living near the sites to come to the Sept. 12 committee meeting, saying other councillors need to understand the scope of the issue.

Terence Henderson, who lives nearby, understands dealing with the rubble is a big job, but hopes it happens soon.

“It should be cleaned up as fast as possible,” said Henderson.

Terence Henderson is hoping for a clean up at a site near his house “as soon as possible.” (Photo Credit: Morgan Modjeski, CityNews)

(Photo Credit: Morgan Modjeski, CityNews)

Gary Barthelette, who works for the company that owns the burned building on Sutherland, says it’s been hard to try protect the site as they figure out next moves, creating even further issues.

“It makes me feel sick because of the way it is. We do our best to keep everybody out, but that don’t work,” said Barthelette. “You patch one hole, they break in another. You patch another, they break in somewhere else. It’s hard to keep them out of here.”

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