Pouce Hillcrest cottages to be torched

After years of struggle with crime rates and property values declining because of a development — Pouce Coupe is taking care of business by burning Hillcrest cottages to the ground.

The Pouce Coupe Volunteer Fire Department will be conducting a controlled structural fire training exercise this weekend weather permitting, by burning four small cottages at the Hillcrest property at 5205 50th Ave and 5211 Hospital Road.

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Village officials say the building inspector has inspected the buildings and there are no public safety issues, and that extensive planning has been done.

At the April 17 council meeting, council and staff talked about the advantage of getting rid of these buildings.

“This has been something the community has been struggling with for years and we’re this close to achieving something that no previous council has been to clean up,” says CAO Chris Leggett.

“Their property values are going to go up significantly, the crime rate in that area is going to go down, it already has.”

The training for the fire department — Tomslake, Arras fire departments, PNG Gas, Dawson Creek Search and Rescue will be on the scene as well — would likely cost $1,600 per person to send them off. Leggett estimates the cost of the burn at $2,000 at most.

The burn is scheduled for this weekend, but is weather dependent. If winds are strong, or the weather otherwise doesn’t cooperate, the date will be moved. The fire will not be left unattended.

The village received concerns from residents, asking them to get the owner to “tear down the buildings at his own expense,” rather than burning the buildings due to smoke, ash, embers, and potential damage.

“We have put up with that eyesore for 20 years,” wrote one resident. “He can tear them down because it is his private property, his responsibility.”

Leggett, however, told council that this is their one real chance to get rid of the buildings. The agreement was signed with the property owner last Monday.

Residents with questions are asked to call the Village Office at 250-786-5794 and speak directly to the CAO.

reporter@dcdn.ca 

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