Ucluelet is looking to spend money to make money.
The district has agreed to pay $26,875 to demolish a former home at 1301 Pine Rd. in order to sell the land the structure is on for an estimated $80,000.
The property, which has been vacant since a 2013 fire, became district property after its taxes went unpaid for three straight years. It was put up for a tax-sale auction but fell into the hands of the district when no bids were received.
In a report, reviewed by council last week, the district’s manager of finance David Douglas recommended clearing the land and cleaning it up before hammering a ‘For-Sale’ sign in the front yard.
Douglas explained the district had budgeted $12,500 for the demolition and sought bids from demolition companies but received only one response, which asked for over twice that amount.
“The district received one bid for $26,875 plus GST, which includes demolition, disposal, and an environmental assessment on the materials being removed and being disposed,” according to Douglas’ report. “The quote does not include any special handling or disposal of hazardous materials.”
He acknowledged the cost was significantly higher than the project’s budget.
“If council would like to continue with this project additional funds will be required,” he wrote. “The extra needed for demolition of the building could be funded from sale proceeds of the land.”
He cautioned against trying to sell the property with the building intact.
“The District intended to demolish the building and clean up the land prior to placing the property for sale,” he said. “Staff is hesitant to recommend selling the property as is due to liability issues that may arise from that type of sale.”
Coun. Mayco Noel said $26,875 was too much to pay and suggested postponing the project until more companies had time to take on, and compete for, new projects.
“I struggle with the quote. I struggle with the fact that we only had one person bid,” he said.
“There’s a lot of contractors really busy right now. I think if this was perhaps pushed off to the fall, my opinion is this might look a little bit different and it would be savings to the district and at the end of the day it would be nice to have some of the winnings out of the property sale go back to the community.”
Mayor Dianne St. Jacques asked what the implications of waiting on the project might be.
“It will require us keeping an eye on it and keeping it boarded up and what not but it’s not a very clean sight, we have had neighbour problems with it,” responded district CAO Andrew Yeates.
Yeates speculated that the lot, once cleared, could fetch around $80,000.
Coun. Randy Oliwa wasn’t sure selling the land with the building intact would be a bad move but expressed trust in staff’s judgment.
“I don’t know if I’d be as hesitant,” he said. “We have a crackerjack legal team there, a sale of ‘as is’ with the proper releases and stuff like that, I’m sure you’ve explored that option as well.”
Yeates confirmed the option had been investigated.
Council decided to accept the $26,875 bid with Noel the only vote in opposition.