By Belle Hatfield
The Yarmouth waste facility on the Hardscratch Road is anticipating a big increase in demand for its construction and demolition debris site in the coming years. Much of the anticipated demolition is expected to be triggered by municipal units enforcing unsightly premises and other bylaws.
The board that manages the Yarmouth County Solid Waste Management Authority has identified the looming demolition tsunami as a major challenge and it has directed its staff and board members to come back to the table at the next meeting prepared to develop a management plan. Among the issues are disposal costs charged to municipal units (who own the facility), the rate at which the construction and demolition cells are being filled, and the financial burden on citizens of municipal demolition orders to address minimum standard and unsightly premise infractions.
Some property owners are walking away from their properties rather than paying to fix them, leaving hard choices for municipalities. The Yarmouth town council recently ordered a property on Willow Street demolished after unsuccessfully trying to get its owner to repair it. Click here for related story. The costs associated with the demolition have been added to the propertyâs tax bill, but now that the building is gone, the chance of the town recovering the costs it has incurred (estimated to be in the neighbourhood of $25,000) are less likely.
There are at least 25 other properties in the town being eyed for potential demolition. The town picked up four of them at a recent tax sale, and demolition orders have been issued on some of them already. There are also properties in the municipalities of Yarmouth and Argyle that may face municipally-ordered demolition.
At a recent board meeting, Yarmouth municipal Warden Murray Goodwin said this is a looming problem that is going to fall into the laps of taxpayers.
âIf the owner canât pay, how many properties do we end up wanting to own? Because, you are never going to get that money out of them [the properties] unless the economy turns around,â he said in asking the board to consider a different way to approach the issue.
âIs there a different way? A cheaper way for the municipalities or the town to do this?â he asked.
Yarmouth town councillor, Ken Langille agreed that this is a looming crisis.
âWe are going to fill up those [disposal] cells pretty quick. They could be filled up next year,â he warned.
The costs of preparing an engineered cell to accept demolition and construction debris is thought to be around $550,000. Yarmouth municipal CAO, Ken Moses, reminded the group that its budget is not covering depreciation, so municipal units would likely have to pick up the tab for the capital costs of constructing new cells.
But for Goodwin the impact on individual citizens has to also be taken into consideration.
âI donât think we should just be addressing this from the side of municipal government. I think we have to look at it from the citizensâ side too,â he said. âLetâs address, how does this affect them and how can we work with them on it,â he said adding, âI see a problem and I donât know how to address it.â