The D’Eon family have been living next-door to an unfinished house on Comox Avenue for 20 years and say its about time that the City stopped giving its owner more time to finish it.
Fed up with what they see as two decades of inaction from the City, Danny D’Eon and his wife Ellen have started raising the issue with council to try to make sure that the council either forces the owner to finish the place immediately or to tear the house down.
“What this is starting to show us, if there is another extension, is that the City is unwilling to do what they need to do. We are hoping that it won’t happen again, we feel like we need to be represented by the City too,” Dan D’Eon told the city council last week.
The house in question started out as a foundation in 1985, which the D’Eons say is about when their own house next-door was built, but 906 Comox has never been finished. Built incrementally over two decades, the building seems to be falling apart faster than it is being built. The roof was re-shingled but they are already falling off again according to D’Eon; one almost hitting him while outside his home.
“I’m scrapping his shingles off of our patio and landings,” he said to the council.
On the house there is a door the appears to be meant to open up onto a non-existent second-story patio, a white towel has been shoved in the space under the door, and around this door is a large patch of black mould. The mould has now started migrating from the unfinished house and is growing in small patches on the D’Eon’s patio, which sits only three feet away. Ellen D’Eon says that something needs to be done because the mould is posing a hazard to their health.
Along the sides of the house there are trenches with metal rebar sticking out from the house. The reason for the rebar is to help anchor a retaining wall that hasn’t been built yet. Children have been known to play in the trenches, which the D’Eons and the City do not consider safe.
Ellen D’Eon says that she’s seen parts of the house flood as well. The house and its condition has been brought to the attention of the City for years and the D’Eons feel that the owner, David Salyn, has been stringing the council along.
“We feel that he feels that if he does a little bit, the city will look the other way and that there are no consequences for doing what he’s doing. We’re hoping that you’ll step up and do something about this,” Danny D’Eon told the council.
David Salyn also appeared at the council meeting asking for the council to give him more time to address the rebar trenches and drainage issues that the council had previously ordered him to fix by November 7, which he failed to do.
Since the house was already scheduled to be torn down by the City, Salyn says it would be a waste of money to hire someone to work on a condemned house. So to do the work, so he must do by himself, which he says will take time.
“After work, there is no time. The days are really short so that just leaves the weekends,” said Salyn.
When asked why the house hasn’t been completed since council began looking into the issue in 2003, Salyn said it’s largely because his wife was in a car accident and he has been acting as a caregiver and homemaker after work.
“My first priority has been my family, so that’s where I’ve been spending the majority of my free time,” said Salyn.
Councillors said they recognized that Salyn is “between a rock and a hard place” when it came to the property.
After a building inspection, city staff recommended that the council rescind its decision to demolish the building and instead declare it a nuisance and have staff make sure that the work to the rebar trenches and drainage problems are addressed. Salyn would be given the opportunity to do it himself again, and if he doesn’t the City will do it and bill him for the expense.
Salyn has had the property up for sale for the past six months with an asking price of $99,900. The majority of councillors felt that it was better to have Salyn finish the house or get it to a point where it could be sold rather to tear it down. The only dissenter was councillor Kathy Bedard who felt that the property had been a burden on the neighbourhood long enough and that it was too long a wait for the house to be sold.
In the end the council decided to accept the staff’s recommendation and give Salyn more time do the work they want done, which on top of the trenches and drainage now includes dealing with the mould.
Salyn has since been seen working on the property.