Winnipeg nearer to charging vacant land house owners for fireplace prices

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The City of Winnipeg is one step closer to handing the costs of vacant building fires over to the owner following a vote at the property and development committee

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The property committee approved a motion that would change the vacant building bylaw and pass over the costs of Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Services to the owners.

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If ultimately approved by council, owners of vacant buildings would be on the hook for the $340-an-hour fee of sending a district fire chief and driver and the $1,357-an-hour fee for emergency vehicles.

“By making owners financially responsible for the total cost of a fire response, the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service may be able to recover some or all of the costs associated with these repetitive and often avoidable fire incidents,” a city report reads.

Fire protection fees are not currently charged to property owners of vacant buildings except in some cases with industrial service agreements. Property owners do have to pay for inspection fees, boarded building permit fees and in some cases an annual empty building fee.

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A city review of the 1,565 responses to the monitored vacant buildings between 2019-21 estimates that Winnipeg could charge $1.4 million back to owners in today’s dollars.

The city estimated that the cost of a two-hour response for a residential structure fire is $14,930.

The costs would not be charged back to owners if the fire was due to arson, natural disasters or collisions and accidents from vehicles.

West Kildonan Library gains heritage status

The West Kildonan Library on Jefferson Avenue is now on Winnipeg’s historical resources list.

The library in northwest Winnipeg was on the verge of moving to the Garden City Shopping Centre last spring but a local coalition pushed to keep the library in its place at 365 Jefferson Avenue.

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Opened in 1967, the library was designed by local architect George A. Stewart who also designed the Fort Garry Library and the St. Vital Library.

The Winnipeg Architecture Foundation supported the call for it to become a historical building.

“Built of Manitoba Tyndall limestone, the structure has horizontal prairie-like lines, bronze window frames, and ribbon windows along the tops of the walls causing the broad overhanging roof to appear to float above the building,” the foundation wrote. “The modernist design fits well into the streetscape but is also an important local landmark.”

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