Man calls for better cleanup after fire

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A Yellowknife man is calling for the owner of a Franklin Avenue property destroyed by a summer fire to do a better cleanup on the remains of the building.

An overnight fire on June 11 burnt down an abandoned heritage house owned by Yellowknife property developer Ray Decorby, president of Polar Developments. Yellowknife resident Simon deJong said that after five months of driving by the burnt remains located next to Sushi Cafe, he has grown tired of waiting for the debris from the building to be removed from the property.

The remains of a building five months after a fire occurred on the property, now covered in snow. Dylan Short/NNSL photo
The remains of a building five months after a fire occurred on the property, now covered in snow. Dylan Short/NNSL photo

“Why would you leave a mess like that? That’s unsightly, that’s unsafe, that’s a hazard to possibly kids playing and kids getting hurt. Why would you leave that behind especially in a visible place like the middle of Franklin Avenue,” said deJong.

The property is now surrounded by a chain-link fence with the building remains piled in the middle of the property. Decorby said that he has made the property safe and doesn’t have any immediate plans to remove the rubble.

“I don’t think there’s any story there. We made it safe,” said Decorby. “We haven’t made any plans as of yet. We’re still deciding what we’re going to do. . . I’m just not interested in making any comments on it to be frank with you.”

deJong said he raised the issue with the City of Yellowknife close to six weeks ago and was told the Municipal Enforcement Division would be assigned to deal with it. He said he was told that the city was considering enforcing a zoning bylaw that would force the property owner to clean the site or be billed if the city cleans it.

“I was told that they had contacted Ray and so far really nothing had happened and they were going to probably apply the unsightly mess bylaw and force them to clean it up,” said deJong.

Eric Bussey, the city’s director of public safety, said the property owner was served with a clean-up order Tuesday morning and now has 30 days to clean-up the site or 14 days to appeal the order.

“The property owner had been contacted on a few occasions previously and was served with a clean-up order,” stated Bussey in an email. “Once the order is expired, if no action on part of the property owner has taken place, charges and contracted work forces to do the clean-up may occur.”

While the clean-up order has now been placed, deJong said he doesn’t believe Decorby should have to be forced to clean the site, he should’ve done it on his own accord.

“I’m more a, ‘Shame on you Ray, you can do better. You shouldn’t need the city to force you to clean this up. You should just see it as a problem and take care of it,’” said deJong

The property was abandoned when the fire occurred. The blaze was ruled suspicious by the NWT fire marshal at the time. A resident living in the area described the structure as a “fire waiting to happen.”