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Lake Country council takes steps to condemn motel

A local motel in Lake Country has been declared a nuisance.

Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to require the owner of Airport Inn Lakeside to board up the building and erect a 1.8-metre fence around it.

Lake Country Mayor James Baker said council voted to take remedial action against the property for health and safety reasons.

READ MORE: Lake Country council shuts down motel for health and safety reasons

Over the years, the motel has been a source of many complaints, including bed bug concerns, mold and electrical issues.

The motel has been operating without an occupancy permit for many years and without a business license since last year, Baker said.

READ MORE: Okanagan community refuses motel new operating licence

Raif Fleihan, the owner of Airport Inn Lakeside, said he has no plans of shutting down.

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“If it closes, the alternative is worse: we’ll have lots of squatters come in here,” Fleihan said.

“I’ve been 20 years like this,” he said. “What they use to harass people: they should have a solution, not an obstacle.”

READ MORE: Court backs up Lake Country in business licence dispute

During a recent count in April, Lake Country found zero people living on the streets, Baker said. He believes that it’s likely because those who would otherwise be homeless have found shelter at Airport Inn Lakeside.

“He’s been a benefit to the community by providing a place to stay, but we have to be cognizant of the safety issues and liability,” Baker said.

READ MORE: Health authority says bed bug issue at Okanagan motel not a health problem

However, there’s concern that people living at the inn won’t have anywhere to go, Baker added.

Because Lake Country doesn’t have any shelters, they might be moved to other communities, he said.

READ MORE: Unresolved health and safety issues at Okanagan motel

Fleihan said he planned to fight the decision in court.

If the property isn’t fixed in 45 days, the district could board up the building and charge Fleihan for the cost, according to council documents.

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