The future of a motel in east Saint John remains up in the air over a dispute about ownership of the property. But one common councillor believes property ownership is a needless delay in the demolition of the Fundy Line Motel on Rothesay Avenue.
The motel has become run down after being abandoned in recent years. Windows are broken or boarded up, part of the roof over a second-floor walkway has collapsed, and some units have been forced open.
The property’s owners were issued a Notice to Comply in March, telling them to fix the property or demolish it.
That notice was appealed because of a dispute over ownership. The appeal was subsequently held up because members of a committee slated to hear it declared conflicts of interest.
Councillor Donna Reardon believes the process can get back on track quickly once new committee members are appointed.
But she believes ownership of the property should not hold up the demolition because if the City of Saint John has to pay for it, it can get the money back from the provincial government.
“If the province ends up reimbursing us for it, they put it on the property,” Reardon began. “And whoever owns it will have to absorb that cost. Or whoever purchases the property in the future would have to absorb that cost. So, ownership is really immaterial, to a certain extent, to us.”
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Many people who live in the neighbourhood behind the motel say it’s unsightly and unsafe, and needs to come down as soon as possible. They say they’re worried about what people and animals may be doing inside the buildings. And they’re also concerned about the possibility of fire.
“There could be a bad fire up there, with people living so close to it,” said Laura LeBlanc, who has lived in a mini-home behind the motel for 12 years. “And the animals are taking over, rats and raccoons. Any more than that, it’s just a hazard to where we live here.”
At least one nearby business is excited about what redevelopment of the motel property could mean for consumers.
“It’s going to bring more traffic to the east side, more traffic to the mall,” said David Deline, general manager of Port City Kia, which recently relocated mere steps from the motel. “The new field house is only a short period of time from opening up, so it just puts a boost onto the east side of Saint John that we’re open for business.”
Global News contacted city staff for a status update on the appeal committee, but calls were note returned.
Attempts to reach the parties involved in the appeal were also unsuccessful.