Kamloops councillor disagrees with decision to knock down two city-owned houses

These two houses at 103 and 107 Yew St. were recently bought by the City of Kamloops and are slated to be knocked down before Christmas.

KAMLOOPS - The City of Kamloops has bought two houses on the North Shore, just so they can knock them down.

Council voted Sept. 13 to buy two small houses, 103 and 107 Yew St., for a total of $560,000 and plans are to knock them down before the new year.

Development director Marvin Kwiatkowski says flattening the two dilapidated buildings will help increase use of Spirit Square, a city park bordering the two properties, though what the land will be used for is still to be determined.

“It leaves us options," he says.

While the property neighbours parkland, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will become an addition to the park.

The two buildings are run-down Kwiatkowski says, and he believes there’s been issues with them in the past. The city will spend an additional $120,000 to clean the houses and knock them down, with the a significant portion of that cost going to hazardous material cleaning due to asbestos in the structures.

In the vote Coun. Tina Lange was the lone vote against the move. She says she thinks the business case for buying and knocking down the two houses is weak, and would have rather seen them left as is or bought and turned over to a social agency for housing.

“To me it’s a lousy return on investment,” she says.

Spirit Square was built nearly 10 years ago as a new park for the Tranquille business area. Lange says while she supported the park at the time, it’s been a let down.

“I admit I made a mistake in supporting it back then,” she says. “It was a bad location, it gets virtually no use.”

She thinks the other councillors had a more hopeful view of the situation, hence their support, and while she believes she made the right choice with her vote, she’d rather be wrong.

“I hope I’m wrong,” she says. “Hopefully opening those sight lines will help.”

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