City of Winnipeg plans to clean up rubble left after 2022 Sherbrook Street apartment fire

The City of Winnipeg plans to clean up a pile of rubble where an apartment building once stood on Sherbrook Avenue before it burned down more than two years ago.On Feb. 14, 2022, a fire broke out at 694 Sherbrook St., which was vacant at the time. The building was demolished, and the city ordered the numbered company registered as the owner to clean it up.But a conflict between the city, the owner and the credit union that held the mortgage on the property has dragged on.Neighbourhood residents like Cheryl Martens have grown frustrated with how long it has taken for someone to take action.”It’s really demoralizing,” she said in a Wednesday interview. “You feel like nobody cares about where you live.”She also said people had started dumping garbage at the site.Last month, the city issued a request for contractors to conduct a “wet demolition,” which is done to mitigate the risk of asbestos exposure. The bidding period for the work has closed, but a city spokesperson said it is still evaluating the submitted bids.”Anticipated costs and a schedule for completing the work will be confirmed following award of the contract,” city spokesperson Kalen Qually wrote in an email.By the end of the work, the property will be filled in and the ground levelled, Qually wrote.News that the city has decided to take on the work comes as a relief to Martens, who along with other residents dubbed the pile “Sherbrook Mountain.””We’ve kept on trying to keep it in the public mind, in terms of the city, and they’ve been really responsive,” she said.”They’ve always responded in respectful ways. They’ve said, yes you have a right to be upset about this.… So we’re just really pleased.”The Sherbrook property is one of several demolished buildings in the city that have been left for long periods of time.An appeal hearing is set for next week on a clean up order of the former Vulcan Iron Works building in Point Douglas, which was gutted by a fire last July and has seen recurring fires since.The owner of that property has disputed a provincial workplace health and safety order for a wet demolition due to the risk of asbestos. Martens has also pushed the city to clean up other properties in the West End.Daniel McIntyre Coun. Cindy Gilroy says city staff hope to begin clearing away the rubble on Sherbrook Street in June.She wants the city to come up with a plan to deal with the rubble.”The challenge that we’re going to start to see is sometimes [removal costs are] … more than the actual property is worth,” Gilroy said.”So then, do people start walking away? I think that’s the fear of the city.”Gilroy would like to see the city start charging a fee to owners of vacant buildings, to incentivize them to keep them occupied.

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