Ogden residents say the former Royal Canadian Legion 154 in the southeast Calgary community has become a magnet for vandals, thieves and homeless people.
The City of Calgary says it’s now ordered the property’s long-time owner to demolish the abandoned building.
The huge building on the corner of Ogden Road and 78th Avenue S.E. used to be a bustling legion boasting an eight-sheet curling rink. The building was sold around 2012 and has stood empty ever since, according to the local community association.
Now it’s mostly boarded up with some sections of broken windows, attracting trespassers and what the local community association president describes as “criminality.”
“The Calgary Police Service, bylaw, community services and the Calgary Fire Department have all been involved in this structure very significantly for the last couple of years,” said John McDonald, president of the Millican Ogden Community Association.
McDonald says fires have been started inside and the building has been targeted repeatedly by thieves and squatters — that’s left people living nearby concerned about safety.
“It creates a dangerous situation for all the folks that live around here,” he said.
McDonald says other vacant properties on Ogden Road have had similar issues.
“It gets cold and somebody who doesn’t have a place to live tries to move in, and they’re going find a way to warm up, which most often involves [almost] burning the property to the ground,” he said. “That happened twice last year.”
“If I’m not getting an email from residents, I’m following a Facebook page, and this property probably pops up once per week. Folks want to know what’s going on with it.”
Residents are hoping the city can take action to force the property owner to demolish or redevelop the building and the site it sits on.
The city says it’s well aware of the building and the problems surrounding it and is taking action.
A statement emailed to CBC News reads: “The City of Calgary is deeply committed to the well-being and safety of all our residents. We are aware of the concerns raised regarding the derelict building in Ogden and the challenges it poses to the community.”
The statement continued: “The city’s Co-ordinated Safety Response Team is working diligently to address this issue. We have issued an order to the property owner seeking demolition. That order has been appealed and will be adjudicated before the Licence and Community Standards Appeal Board.”
The city says it understands the frustration and concerns of residents and wants to reassure the community that safety is its top priority.
The city didn’t offer any details around a possible timeline for the appeal process.
CBC News contacted the property owner, who declined an interview.
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