A roofless house in Fernwood that is fenced off and littered with construction equipment is quickly becoming an eyesore and generating concern from neighbours that it’s attracting the wrong type of attention.
The front yard of the home at 2018 Stanley Ave. is full of roofing material, bags of insulation from the attic and scaffolding.
Originally built in 1912, the arts and craft California bungalow-style home (designed by the same architect who designed the original McPherson Theatre) has all the original features such as the copper beam ceilings, french doors and push button light switches still intact, though it is not a heritage-designated building.
The former owner lived in the character house for several decades before he passed away. His family eventually sold the property earlier this year.
Since the spring, the new owners have ripped off most of the roof, which has no tarp, subjecting the home to rain. Work hasn’t been done on the home since the summer.
Most recently, graffiti artists found their way onto the property, tagging the front of the home.
Neighbours are concerned about the ongoing neglect of the character home.
“There’s concern that this house is quickly becoming a derelict building,” said Chris Grieve, who has lived next door for the past eight years and started the Facebook group Save 2018 Stanley Ave.
“I’ve seen more people use it as a drop place for refuge. My concern is the house is starting to attract the kind of attention that one doesn’t want in a neighbourhood. Graffiti is a start. Then you have to start worrying about more serious vandalism, theft and other problems that tend to expand away from the problem house.”
More than 50 residents have joined the Facebook group.
Neighbour Georgina Hope said she’s disappointed the neighbourhood is losing a piece of history.
“In Victoria we have this history, quite a few old buildings that have sat boarded up and derelict and it’s not good for our neighbourhood. This is such a waste,” she said, adding that she chose to raise her two children in Fernwood. “It’s a beautiful old house, it’s got stories and character — it’s just heartbreaking.”
The group hopes to stop the owners from demolishing it and want it relocated to another site. At the very least, they’re hoping the owner will cover up the open roof to prevent anymore damage.
“The owner has the right to do what he wants with his property. But I also felt that the house brings a lot to the neighbourhood and has the potential to be a shining star,” Grieve said, adding some people have even offered to buy the home in order to save it.
Grieve hopes the city will consider implementing penalties for homeowners who don’t meet a basic level of structural integrity and building security to prevent similar incidents from happening in other neighbourhoods.
Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe, liaison for the Fernwood Community Association, said because the home doesn’t have a heritage designation, it makes it difficult for the city to take action.
“The city and the neighbours would prefer any alternative be considered than demolition,” she said, adding they are looking into other steps bylaw officers could take in terms of removing the graffiti. “I’m frustrated and I know the neighbours are frustrated and definitely share their concerns. Right now, we have to see what steps we can take.”
City staff are currently trying to get back in touch with the owner to see what his intentions are with the house.