Posted 07 November 2011 - 09:36 AM
Thank you Mr. Randall for adding some sanity and civility to the Blog. It permits a response.
Over the days leading to the election, it is my intention to respond to this Blog and to set out my positions on various issues.
With respect to Mr.Fogger etc, you really need to be in the trenches dealing with the day to day aspects of the closed properties to properly comment.
Over the years, I have dealt with the hard to house or difficult tenants, often not by choice but unfortunately due to the nature of what Victoria has to offer. The Yates and Cook properties were prime examples. Unfortunately, I had a manager prior to 2001 who did not care. I came to Victoria in 2001 to try and attack the mess. I lived in a sleeping bag in the basement of Yates and Cook and tried to stem the tide of drug dealings and drug use. In one instance, I stood on Yates street until approximately 3 oclock in the morning until the police came along and asked me what I was doing. I told them that there was a dealer in the building and I was trying to discourage the trafficking. They asked the persons name, looked him up and said they were aware of him. They said they could go in and rattle a few chains but that 5 minutes after they left the trafficking would start up again. They advised me to go home to bed (little did they know my bed was a sleeping bag in the basement).
At that point, as an owner what do you do, go home and see the traffic increase and your building torn to shreds or try to deal with it? I stood my ground, only to my utter surprise, to have the police return telling me to go home or they would charge me with loittering.
I could list story after story like this. Some violent, some compassionate as the user breaks down and tries to break the cycle.
One needs to step back and ask what is actually going on when the TV cameras show up filming a suite or building absolutely trashed by a tenant. What owner in his or her right mind wants the building destroyed?
I spent some $250,000 on the two buildings between 2001 and 2003 when the buildings were shut by the City.
With respect to the Cook Street building, the City was in such a rush to shut the building, in my opinion, it proceeded without legal authority. This question is before the Courts. Little, if anything will happen to this building until the litigation is resolved.
With respect to Yates Street from information provided by the City, if Yates Street were torn down a duplex could be built there. In my opinion, this is not a reasonable option for a building in this location with a 30 unit property and a 45 unit property on either side. Given the angst and animosity which seems to exist in the City and Mr. Fogger etc, are apparently a prime examples, I will not go forward with this property where I have to ask the City for any sort of variance.
Over the years since the closure of these buildings, every time there has been a significant discussion of the homeless problem in the news, I have written the Mayor suggesting that we enter into discussions of developing these buildings. In each and every case neither Mayor Lowe nor the current Mayor Fortin have ever responded, not even an acknowledgement.
At the staff level over the years, whenever I contacted City Hall, I would be told by the building inspector, “my instructions are not to talk to you”! Surprise, if you are inside City Hall, you would know this is so. It is well known by many in the building community that the City staff have not talked to me and this is even when I have approached the City to talk to them about other properties than Cook and / or Yates. The building inspector would refer me to his boss and on from there. Usually, it might take two or three days for something which should take 20 minutes. Most often, I would simply give up. Not that it enters into it everyone is entitled to the same service, but I pay the City hundreds of thousands of dollars in any given tax year.
This is in fact, one of the reasons I am running for Council. The mood and culture in City Hall is rotten. It is mind numbing to me that it is but it is and needs to be examined.
So there is my response to Mr. Fogger etc. I will write soon on what I see as some of the election issues, my positions and suggestions on them.
Mr. Randall, thanks again for adding some sanity and civility.