Sooke council has taken steps to remove a dangerous eyesore from the community, but for some the move evokes bittersweet memories.
The property is located at 2076 Otter Point Rd. and once housed a large trading emporium called the Sooke Trading Post or the “Tin Grotto.”
It’s a structure with a checkered history.
In 2008, it was cited under Sooke’s unsightly premises and objectionable situations bylaw, and ordered to remove stored materials and improve the exterior appearance of the structure.
In 2011, the owners, Denwood Holdings Ltd., were cited again, this time under the Fire Service Act, and although ordered to resolve 11 separate deficiencies, never followed through on the demand.
The business shuttered its doors in April 2012 and quickly fell into even further disrepair. By 2013, it was noted the right-hand support beam in the building had dropped almost two feet, once again bringing it to the attention of the district.
In 2015, the property owner complained to council that he was being harassed by the bylaw officer, but then dropped out of sight, refusing to answer phone messages or accept registered mail from the district.
The situation continued to degenerate in subsequent years, finally leading to council’s move at its last meeting.
With the passing of the most recent motion to deal with the property, the owner will be notified and will have 30 days to either demolish the building, remediate and secure the site, or undertake a scheduled plan of repair, renovation and rehabilitation of the building.
The latter is considered to be very unlikely, said district staff, and they anticipate that following the passing of the 30 days, it will be up to the district to demolish the structure.
“We’ll have to hire someone to do the work,” said bylaw officer Medea Mills.
The bill for the demolition and remedial work on the property would be sent to the owner, and if unpaid, would be added to the property tax bill.
“This whole situation has stirred some bittersweet memories for me,” said Coun. Jeff Bateman.
“When I first arrived in Sooke in 2003, the place was still open and packed to the gunwales with all sorts of treasure,” Bateman recalled.
“We would go in and wander around. For me, it was part of the charm of Sooke.”
But for others in the community, the demolition of the building will be a welcome move. The district is in receipt of piles of complaint letters that speak of garbage, graffiti, rat infestations and more.
One realtor, speaking about the recently completed development on Ayre Road, adjacent to the property, has informed the district that purchasers have eschewed buying next to “a dump” and that it’s anticipated that the building’s removal will make sales possible and future development in the area more likely.
The property owner had been contacted prior to the council meeting, inviting him to be heard prior to the council vote, but declined to appear. He now has 30 days to appeal the council’s decision.