The City of Portage la Prairie is set to introduce a new by-law aimed at improving the management of vacant and derelict properties. City Councillor and Public Safety Chair Colin Doyle explains the proposed regulation is intended to reduce social, health and financial risk factors associated with neglected buildings. "Vacant properties impose several costs on the community. There's increased risk of fire and criminal activity which incurs costs for all the ratepayers, they negatively impact the property values of the surrounding homes and neighbourhoods and they deter others from investing in their own properties when these homes are in these neighbourhoods. All the while, these particular derelict properties contribute less in taxes to the municipality because of their depreciation on their assessment." 

Doyle says taking action on unsafe properties in the community has historically included court proceedings which could take up to two years to begin and he's hopeful to see a new set of regulations to expedite the process.

"This By-law will provide clear authority for the city to take decisive action in addressing these properties. It will also implement an escalating fee structure to encourage property owners to pro-actively manage and rehabilitate their boarded up vacant homes. It aligns with the priorities set forth in our council's strategic plan and it aims to encourage reinvestment in our already established neighbourhoods." 

The details of the proposed by-law are extensive, and Doyle says just over 30 properties in the city currently meet criteria for being vacant or derelict. The initial council review saw unanimous agreement, and Doyle is confident that implementation of the regulations will influence the choices of property owners. "The new by-law encourages compliance because the additional powers are essential to incentivize current owners of boarded-up properties to either rehabilitate these homes and bring them back to compliance, or to demolish the non-inhabitable structures."

City Council will vote on the proposed by-law at the next City Council Meeting scheduled for June 10th, 2024. Citizens are encouraged to come forward with questions or feedback.