AMHERST - Amherst is stepping up efforts to force an absentee landlord to fix a downtown building.
The town's director of planning, Jason MacDonald, confirmed Tuesday the town is in the process of applying to the Nova Scotia Supreme Court to force the owner of the former police station on the corner of Victoria and LaPlanche streets to either fix the building or remove it.
"We're making the application to have them declare it unsightly and we're asking them to get him to fix it or tear it down," MacDonald said. "If he decides to tear it down, he has to follow the Heritage Property Act."
The application is expected to go before the court later this month. If the court rules in the town's favour, the town can fix or repair it or start fining the building's owner, Tang Dynasty Investments, on a daily basis until the work is complete.
"Having the Supreme Court order it is not entirely different than having the town order it, but there's more clout," MacDonald said.
The sidewalk around the building continues to be barricaded after a complaint to the town's dangerous and unsightly premises committee and subsequent engineering study found a potential safety hazard in the building's brick faÇade.
MacDonald said the town has not received any indication from the building's owner as to what his intentions are and a deadline to fix the building passed in November without any action.
The town, he said, doesn't want to see the building removed because of its heritage value. But, unless it can be repaired MacDonald said it's going to have to be demolished.
Tang was quick to have the former Bird's Drapery Building on Havelock Street repaired when a complaint was received about loose brickwork on the front of that building. MacDonald figured Tang moved because it was easier and relatively inexpensive to fix that building while the former police station needs more extensive work.
"No one knows if the police station is a $1,000 fix or a $100,000 fix. If you go in and fix one brick, do you move to the next one? We don't know the scope of the problem," MacDonald said.