Provincial taxpayers have now paid more to mothball a former nursing home for a decade than it would have cost to demolish the uninhabitable building in the first place, says Red Deer’s mayor.
Tara Veer told city council this week that the $100,000 the provincial government is paying annually to secure the former Valley Park Manor has surpassed $1 million — more than the cost of wrecking the building after it was shut down in 2010.
Neighbouring residents in Riverside Meadows complain to city councillors that criminal acts are going on in the derelict, empty structure, even though it’s watched by a security company.
“We continue to hear from people about break ins… and all manner of illicit activities,” said Coun. Tanya Handley.
A report the mayor presented to council this week shows that city officials have raised concerns about the empty Valley Park Manor becoming a target for vandalism and other illegal activities with the infrastructure minister and the associate minister of red tape reduction.
Handley said local MLAs have also been apprised of the situation.
But while the building is “past the point of no return,” containing asbestos and poor mechanical systems, according to Veer, no action is being taken by the provincial government.
Handley admitted the situation has been frustrating, because city council has no control over the provincially owned property.
Since municipal demands that the former nursing home either be demolished or sold for redevelopment are going unanswered, it’s spurring concerns that the same neglect could happen to Piper Creek Lodge.
Handley is worried this still-inhabited provincially-owned seniors facility, at 4820 33rd St., will also be left to languish for years after it closes once its clients are moved into a new seniors’ housing project, being built on the former Red Deer Nursing Home site at 30th Street and Bremner Avenue.
Large derelict lots are bad news for any neighbourhood, said Handley, who believes redevelopment helps spark rejuvenation.
Tara Lodewyk, the city’s director of planning services, said the city does have a grant program open to private owners of derelict buildings in the downtown.
They can apply to a fund for help with fixing up or tearing down their structures. But a provincially owned nursing home would not qualify.
A spokesperson from Alberta Health stated on Friday that the building is owned by Alberta Health Services.