Carbonear ‘eyesore’ still standing

Melissa Jenkins
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Resident complaints and town pride has councillors pushing to demolish dilapidated building

An uphill battle in the Town of Carbonear to have a building in the downtown area torn down has reached a boiling point for some town councillors.

The former Easy Save Building in Carbonear has drawn much critism from residents and councillors in the past decade, and many are pushing for it to be torn down.

In 2008, a previous council voted 7-0 in favour of placing a demolition order on the Surprise Bag Co. building (former Easy Save) owned by Cal Powell located at 234 Water Street. Now, six years later, the building still stands, but the Community Business Development Corporation (CBDC), a government-funded organization, has a lien on the property.

The issue has been held up in court over the years, but many are saying it has been going on long enough.

The current council has been looking for a solution, and its members displayed some frustration at the May 20 regular meeting. Some progress was made, and some steps are being taken to proceed with demolition.

Councillors speak out

The building has been referred to as a pink and blue eyesore, unfit for the downtown historic district. And the only solution appears to be the town taking on the demolition itself.

Coun. David Kennedy voiced his concerns with that plan.

“The town could spend money to clean a parcel of land and get nothing back, which currently is not something that should be entertained,” Kennedy explained. “To have limited info back from CBDC and to be given a run around is not good enough.”

The Trinity Conception chapter of CBDC declined an interview with The Compass due to “privacy and confidential matters.”

Deputy Mayor Frank Butt has been vocal against the issue, even before joining council last September. He is an advocate for preserving the historic essence of the downtown area and noted in the meeting it needs to be dealt with immediately.

“This has been going on now for almost a decade, and something has to be done,” Butt stated. “It’s costing us money to have it there.”

Butt was referring to legal costs, which continue to accumulate every time the town’s lawyer is contacted on the issue.

Kennedy was concerned about the potential cost, because an assessment hasn’t been completed on the building. If there are hazardous materials inside, the cost could inflate.

“The town had (the) court uphold a demolition order, which can't be followed through on, yet,” Kennedy explained. “The town can demolish the building, but may end up footing the cost, which may rise significantly depending on the composition of the material used in its construction.”

Plans rolling out

Butt put forward a motion to go ahead with demolition, inspection and pest control of the building and selling the property.

Everyone was on board with the principle of the motion, but the cost was something that led to its defeat with a 4-3 vote.

“I know that it has been frustrating, but I think we have to be prudent in how we do this, and don’t incur costs that we shouldn’t be taking on as taxpayers, or as council who represents taxpayers,” Coun. Ray Noel said.

Kennedy didn’t like the idea of spending a significant amount of taxpayers' money when it shouldn’t be the town’s responsibility to pay for it.

“(The cost is) not something that we as a town can incur, and I think it’s the responsibility of CBDC and whoever owns it,” he asserted. “The thing that disturbs me is my tax dollars are going in to pay (CBDC employees) to run this show, whatever they’re running. And they’re useless at it.”

Kennedy noted CBDC has been rumoured to have taken ownership of the building.

“It has been said that CBDC has a judgment through the courts that gives them ownership of the building. Yet, they appear like they will not take the judgment (since) they will be responsible for a derelict building within a town boundary.”

Going inside

The windows have been smashed and are boarded up, the siding is faded and many residents in Carbonear have been calling on council to remove it.

During the meeting, it was noted town employees or councillors can’t just access the property. But The Compass has learned a hazardous assessment company can be granted entrance to the building. And that is the next step.

Director of Public Works Brian O’Grady acknowledged he was hoping to begin next week. The only concern was how anyone could enter the building without a key.

The solution is the owner will be advised in a letter from the town of the dates the building will be assessed. If the owner won’t comply, the company will gain access through other means.

“If he doesn’t comply, we get a locksmith to cut the locks off and put them back on after,” Kennedy explained.

Council hopes to begin the process right away, with follow-ups in the coming weeks.

“It’s alright to have a timeline on this,” Coun. Ed Goff explained.

Organizations: Community Business Development, Surprise Bag Co., The Compass

Geographic location: Carbonear, 234 Water Street

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Recent comments

  • Ed Samson
    May 28, 2014 - 17:56

    Actually the building is just as historic as any other building on Water Street, it's an integral part of the evolution of the Rorke family business in Carbonear.

    • Bill
      June 03, 2014 - 07:39

      I have no doubt my comments won't be displayed but I will try anyway. The Easy Save building is on the same parking lot as the Esso gas station, owned by Frank Butt. Councillor Butt is adamant about bringing more traffic to the down town area, an area where he has the only gas station, only one other convenience store on that side of Town. HOW DO YOU SPELL CONFLICT OF INTEREST? What is the number to the dept of council affairs? I will ask around Carbonear as the naysayers use the number often enough, they would surely know. I guess there is no chance of an paper article being written on this topic, as it may not win favours. lmao

  • Former BAYWOMAN
    May 28, 2014 - 13:18

    I used to love shopping here with my Mom-they had the best deals! I agree that the owner/s should be ordered to tear it down, especially if it's filled with asbestos; health hazard to the community and other businesses nearby. Water Street is beautiful to me, but this dilapidated building is definitely an eyesore....I agree. And the taxpayers shouldn't have to pay for anything as they all shopped there enough back in the day to support it!

  • John
    May 28, 2014 - 07:22

    Funny, I recently build two flower boxes around trees in front of my property. The base of these trees was ragged and ugly so I took it upon myself to rectify the situation. Faster than you can say "town clown" the big bad town enforcement officer came knocking telling me of the scores of rules I had violated and was subject to a $1000.00 fine if not removed in three days. Too bad they don't put the same effort into cleaning up that mess, not to mention the litter and garbage that lines the ditches and boardwalk in our town as they put into worrying about petty issues.

  • *M
    May 27, 2014 - 11:59

    demolish the building, add the cost to the outstanding taxes for this property, Property taxes come before any mortgage or lien, sell the property off on a tax sale and be done with it. The tax payers should not have to incur the cost of the demolished building and the Town can recoup the cost on resale.

    • Larry
      May 27, 2014 - 21:17

      I was talking to Frank and the plan to recover by tax sale won't work, as the cost associated from a demolition can't be recovered, as a tax sale can't be forced and there are apparently several liens on the building, the town will be out the money. This place is a mess, but can the town afford the money to tear it down? Can we do without paving etc.? Lets pray there is no asbestos and that CDBC get off their asses and help the Town out.

  • Mr. Grab Bag
    May 27, 2014 - 06:39

    Seems my comment only got half printed. I send it again.

  • Mr. Grab Bag
    May 27, 2014 - 06:36

    The Carbonear Town Council as [The Mother Goose Club] Round and round the Easy Save The monkey chased the weasel. Calvin stopped to pull up his socks and Pop goes the weasel. If it was Joe Blow, Mr. Carbonear Nobody, 7 years ago when this fiasco started, you would have issued a demolition order, have the dog catcher serve it, and, if there was no compliance, you’d have one of your Tender buddies tear it down, and send the bill with interest to Mr. Joe Blow. What a joke, guys! Get your act together. I ask that the Town publish how much has been spent to date on this matter? $100,000? How much is the whole kit and kaboodle worth, anyway? … -Like, Nothing! Let’s call Sammy Claws, he’ll know what to cock-a-diddle-do…

  • Mr. Grab Bag
    May 26, 2014 - 20:03

    The Carbonear Town Council as [The Mother Goose Club] Round and round the Easy Save The monkey chased the weasel. Calvin stopped to pull up his socks And Pop goes the weasel. If it was Joe Blow, Mr. Carbonear Nobody, 7 years ago when this fiasco started, you would have issued a demolition order, have the dog catcher serve it, and, if there was no com

    • Sammy
      May 27, 2014 - 06:55

      Follow the min and Compass the building has an outstanding demolition order since 2010, but even then it would have cost $150,000 of residents money to enlarge the adjacent parking lot. To bad Gov (CBDC won't pony up and make Powell tear it down.

  • Jerry
    May 26, 2014 - 19:34

    Thats right Town of Carbonear..Tear it down..flaten it..and dont forget all the rest of the questionable buildings in town..Your on the right road if you want our downtown to look like hr Grace or Bay Roberts or any other of the " have been downtowns " in this province. Yes by' create another cavity downtown....What a bunch of shortsighted persons we have on council..I guess its easier to tear it down then fix it up...Why don't you all just flatten all of water street ?..Then you don't have to worry about more snow clearing or street cleaning ( as if it were a priority anyway ) ...Problem solved..just make it a clear road..then try to get the province to take care of it..Why who needs downtown anyway when we got the mall?

  • Tax Payer
    May 26, 2014 - 15:02

    Speaking to Larry and he noted that the cost could run $250,000 plus to demolish an asbestos filled building, which it probably is. So does it make sense to spend my tax dollars cleaning up another mess left by the Powells who reaped millions and left employees with nothing and the town with a hefty tax build. Clean up a property and then CBDC will swoop in, sell the land and say thank you, residents. The hell with the building, pave my road and fix up the roads around town. As for the eyesore, well hey exist everywhere.