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Charlottetown steps in with stop-work order to prevent owner from demolishing log home

Ray Campbell, who owns a log home on Hillsborough Street in Charlottetown, stands by a part of the structure he took down before the city filed a court injunction ordering him to stop. He and the city now have 10 days to come to a resolution on the matter.
Ray Campbell, who owns a log home on Hillsborough Street in Charlottetown, stands by a part of the structure he took down before the city filed a court injunction ordering him to stop. He and the city now have 10 days to come to a resolution on the matter. - Dave Stewart

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - The owner of a historic log home in Charlottetown says the structure has to come down even though a court order is stopping him.

The City of Charlottetown filed an injunction Tuesday to stop Ray Campbell from continuing to remove or demolish his property at 15 Hillsborough St.

Campbell had begun to tear the home apart when the injunction was filed.

Poll: Should Ray Campbell be allowed demolish his log home? 

The injunction states Campbell is to immediately secure the building from the elements on the south exterior wall and the roof and to secure and preserve the logs which were cut out of the south exterior wall without a proper permit, at his own cost and expense.

“City council doesn’t want to look bad giving a demolition permit for that old house. I’ll just put sheeting up,’’ Campbell told The Guardian outside his property, explaining that he will adhere to the court order. “Insurance companies have come right out and said, ‘we will not insure this house’. I still can’t get insurance for this place.’’

Coun. Greg Rivard, chairman of the city’s planning and heritage committees, said this is not a case of city council versus Campbell.

“This is Mr. Campbell versus the rules outlined in the city bylaws. Mr. Campbell has not made any application to the city to delist the home as a heritage resource, which (it) has been designated since 1979,’’ Rivard said. “This application would trigger the process that would involve a public meeting and end up in front of council for a vote. At this point, council has no involvement.’’

What the injunction says:

  • That Campbell can’t remove or demolish the property
  • Immediately secure the building from the elements on the south exterior wall and the roof and secure and preserve the logs which were cut out of the south exterior wall without a proper permit
  • A copy of the order be delivered to Charlottetown Police Services
  • That Campbell and the city meet to discuss the issue
  • The order remains in place until Friday, Aug. 3 at 11 a.m. Order can be extended

An engineer’s report was conducted on the property by SCL Engineering at a cost of $1,000 with Campbell and the city splitting the bill. It deemed the property structurally sound except for the roof. A building inspector also had a look at the log home and agreed with the engineer’s report.

Campbell questions those findings.

“How can a place be structurally sound when a 64-year-old man can crumble the wood in his bare hands?’’ Campbell said, referring to himself. “Here I am stuck with no insurance on the house and it's a danger to the general public, and the city won’t do anything to protect the general public, (so) I took it into my own hands.’’

Related: Charlottetown man abandons hopes of renovating city’s oldest log home and sells it

Rivard said heritage staff can’t recall when a registered building has been delisted, but there is a process to permit council to review the merits of an existing designation.

The home is thought to date back to the early 1800s and is deemed to be a heritage resource. Campbell could face fines of up to $20,000 if he were to continue demolition but it would be up to the court to impose them.

The injunction stops any demolition work for taking place for 10 days and requires Campbell to meet with the city to come to a resolution. If a resolution isn’t reached, Campbell and the city would go to court to discuss extending the order.

Rivard said the engineer’s report makes arguments to retain the building as well as to demolish it. He added that heritage staff have not commented on the structural assessment or provided their professional opinion to council in the event that Campbell applies to delist the property.

Twitter.com/DveStewart

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