Driving along Second Avenue in Timmins, the house at the corner of Elm Street South is considered an "eye-sore" to many in the area.
One resident, Joseph McNulty, said the property has been garbage-ridden and visually repulsive throughout his five years living on the street — but others claim the issues at 110 Elm St. S. have persisted for at least 20 years.
And McNulty said the unsightly exterior often attracts an unpleasant crowd.
"It’s been nothing but chaos," McNulty said. "People in and out of the building. People fighting, arguing, throwing stuff out the window."
The Timmins Police Service confirmed that a number of noise complaints and domestic disputes have been linked to the property. Some residents claim the location is known for drug trafficking but police said they did not have calls related to drug activity on file.
Afraid to go outside
Some residents said they’ve been afraid to walk around the area after dark, and McNulty said some of his neighbours have either moved or are trying to relocate.
"We’ve had one or two neighbours of ours last year move away, due to the trouble, off and on, especially in this street," said McNulty.
Business owners in the area told CTV News that the property’s appearance has interfered with business.
McNulty and other residents claim the building’s owner, Guy Lahaie, has put no effort into renovating it or cleaning up the abundance of trash.
"The owner has done nothing"
Lahaie agreed to meet with CTV News to explain his side of the issue.
"Each and every one person that’s in that area has seen me up to 4 o’clock in the morning getting rid of the garbage," Lahaie said. "Then, once I got it cleaned reasonably, then it would get another 10 truckloads outside."
He said all he can do at this point in the winter season is try to remove as much garbage as he can before attempting any renovations.
"Trash first, windows later," said Lahaie.
Sources say bylaw officers visited the Elm Street property recently to conduct inspections.
Enforcing property bylaws
Steph Palmateer, clerk at the City of Timmins, said the process of enforcing local bylaws, particularly for building maintenance, includes issuing fines and orders to renovate.
He said enforcement tactics can escalate depending on the severity of the bylaw infraction and the cooperation of the landlord.
"If we believe that the building is in such a poor state of disrepair ... if the property owner doesn’t comply with the orders to remedy, we will then go in and have the building torn down," Palmateer said.
Palmateer said the city’s current council has taken steps to crack down on local bylaw infractions and decrepit properties.
The city normally demolishes around three unusable buildings per year, he said, but that renewed efforts have seen that same number of demolitions in the past six months.
City councillor Noella Rinaldo, who has been outspoken on being more steadfast in tackling derelict buildings, believes the results are encouraging.
"We are making progress but these things do take time," said Rinaldo. "That is the secret, I think, is that we have to notify the landlord a little faster and make sure that we do the fines a little bit faster. We are making sure that we start as soon as we possibly can and make sure that we follow through with it."