Portage la Prairie is taking action against vacant and derelict buildings with a new by-law passed by the City Council on June 10. The goal is to address the social, health, and financial problems these properties cause, and to improve the look and safety of neighbourhoods.

Director of Public Safety Brad Bailey explained;

"Our goal is always to work proactively with property owners. However, this by-law gives the City the power to fine and mitigate properties that do not meet community standards. While we prefer collaboration, we must also ensure fairness to neighbourhoods by not allowing homes to fall into disrepair. It can be a timely process to address these properties, and we appreciate the community's patience as we work behind the scenes to bring them up to standard."

The city has already identified around 20 properties that need attention.

Councillor Colin Doyle, chair of public safety, highlighted the negative impact of these buildings.

"We all know that these properties can lead to increased crime and devalue the neighbourhood," Doyle shared. "We wanted to come up with a better method that gives the city more powers to deal with these properties."

Doyle emphasized the city’s need to be helpful, but decisive.

"These properties need to be brought back up to code, either by fixing them or tearing them down. Obviously, we want to be proactive, and we want to be fair to these property owners and give them that opportunity to actually fix them up."

Residents can report additional problem properties to City Hall or by contacting Doyle or Bailey directly. A committee is in place to review these reports to ensure they meet the criteria for action.