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24 Central Street
Effort to create full-service restaurant in former Guardian newspaper office remains stalled
A downtown business owner is getting one last chance to comply with a stop-work order on his property before the city steps in.
“I want to do the right thing, but I don’t want to come down too hard if I don’t have to,” said Coun. Gordie Whitlock at the recent planning board meeting.
The issue goes back months to when the city’s building inspector first learned that the tenant at 24 Central St. — the former Guardian building — was renovating the property without the necessary permits from the city and the province.
At the time, the building housed a take-out restaurant and the tenant was renovating the space into a full-service restaurant with a commercial kitchen.
A stop-work order was issued and, shortly after, the tenant abandoned the project.
Months passed and nothing was done at the site.
On Feb. 10, a ‘for rent’ sign went up at the property, prompting the building inspector to advise the owner that the stop-work order was still in place. A dangerous/hazardous building notice was the placed on the property.
The owner, on vacation, replied that he would address the issue upon his return.
But nothing has been done, the reason why it is before the planning board.
Under the city’s bylaw, the building inspector can have the work done to bring the site up to code and send the bill to the owner. If, after 30 days, that bill isn’t paid, the city can place a lien on the property.
Deputy Mayor Brent Gallant took issue with this move.
“I don’t know if this is a case where we are driving a spike where a nail would do,” said Gallant. “The owner seemed to indicated they are on vacation. I know the owner... and he has been a pretty good corporate citizen for the last 40 years or so.”
He said with the orders nothing can be done at the property until the work is done.
“I don’t bring mind bringing the hammer down in situations that warrant it.”
Coun. Bruce MacDougall said there has been no flat refusal from the owner indicating he wasn’t going to do the necessary work.
MacDougall suggested the board hold off for a month in forwarding the issue to council and contact the owner, again, to tell him he has that time to comply.
“I don’t know we should be differing it for a month when so much time has lapsed,” said Coun. Norma McColeman. “It is pretty black and white.”
The planning board, after debate, decided to hold off sending the issue to council.