Kelowna city council sticks to its guns; demands unsafe house be demolished | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna city council sticks to its guns; demands unsafe house be demolished

Janusz Grelecki lost his appeal to city council and now must demolish his Rutland home.
August 23, 2021 - 3:57 PM

Given that Janusz Grelecki has an almost 18-year history of nuisance properties in Kelowna, city council was unanimous today in upholding its decision to order his house demolished.

Council made the order on July 26 but Grelecki had the right to appeal.

Today, Aug. 23, he spoke directly to council as did a neighbour who acted on his behalf.

READ MORE: Kelowna city staff wants home with 'life safety concerns' torn down

But council also heard that city staff have been dealing with Grelecki long before he was at lived in his current home at 445 Gibson Rd. in Kelowna's Rutland neighbourhood.

A retired bylaw officer with the city told council he first encountered Grelecki in 2007 over a complaint about an unsightly premise where Grelecki was a tenant. That was just a short distance away at 225 Gibson Rd.

In fact, the bylaw officer said, the first complaint was made in 2004 and there were 12 complaints by 2018 for that property.

In the end, the city hired a contractor who hauled five dump truck loads of material away, including a dozen old vehicles.

“In the 10 years that I was dealing with Mr. Grelecki on this property, I tried to communicate with Mr. Grelecki the importance of keeping the property in reasonable condition,” the bylaw officer said. “We attempted fines. That didn’t work. We set up weekly goals to meet and follow up. Unfortunately, they weren’t met.”

Grelecki did remove some of the material from that site but simply took it down the street to 424 Gibson Rd.

In the end, the city cleaned up the property, demolished one building and settled the costs with a new property owner there.

There have been another 24 complaints about Grelecki’s home at 445 Gibson Rd. since 2012 and city staff said they have no confidence that anything will change with that property if Grelecki is given another chance. His neighbour asked that Grelecki be given until the end of 2022 to do that work.

READ MORE: iN PHOTOS: Owner of ‘unsafe’ house in Kelowna will fight the city in the hopes of saving his home

City staff tried to get Grelecki to focus on working on the front of the home only to find he was doing things like hauling fill into the back yard instead.

“Our greatest success was working with him on a weekly basis,” a staff member said. “But we could not even get success on just cleaning up the front of the building.”

Grelecki’s intervenor provided council with a report from a structural engineer that, he said, showed the house is safe to live in.

But, city councillors said that there were a number of items listed in that report that showed significant structural and safety problems.

“There are life safety concerns,” councillor Gail Given said. “If I back away, then I feel compliant if something does go wrong.”

In the end, councillors felt city staff had spent far too much time trying to work with Grelecki to get him follow the rules and there is no likelihood that anything will change if he is given the time he asked for.

“I have no confidence that anything could be done in a year-and-a-half,” councillor Mohini Singh said. “If it couldn’t be done in 18 years, how can it be done in a year-and-a-half?”

The original timeline council agreed to in July now gives Grelecki 14 days to apply for a demolition permit.

He has to remove all personal contents from in and around the building within 42 days and remove hazardous materials within 60 days.

The house, including foundation, decks, swimming pool, retaining and landscape walls, temporary structures, vehicles, equipment, imported material and earth fill have to be removed within 120 days. After that, the lot has to be regraded and planted with native grass and plants.

If Grelecki fails to comply with any of the deadlines, the city can send in a contractor to do that work and charge the costs against the property’s taxes.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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