City of Winnipeg apologizes after demolition bill for over $6,000 sent to wrong homeowner

The City of Winnipeg is apologizing after mistakenly sending a demolition bill for a derelict building to the wrong homeowner.

An empty, derelict building next to Tracy Ball’s home on Matheson Avenue East burned down on Aug. 18, 2022, after months of her asking the city to do something about it.

“There were rats, the grass in the backyard for two years was waist-high. Nothing was ever done,” Ball told Global News, saying the community had numerous health and safety concerns over the building.

“It was just a worst nightmare. There were drug users in and out of it and homeless in and out of it, and at one point the police came because there was so much going on in the house. And they kind of let me stand in the doorway and there was fecal material all over the floors and everything was smashed in it, but it was still full of antiques.”

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Read more: Derelict buildings in Winnipeg pose major risks to communities, first responders

Ball said that on Aug. 18, she had to evacuate her home as the derelict building next to her had caught on fire. She says her home fortunately sustained minimal damage, but the city still didn’t take action on the burnt-out building next to her.

“The city still didn’t make anything happen,” she said. “They put some big fencing around it, but it’s not attached to anything. So people just moved it out of the way.”

Ball said on Tuesday she was shocked when she came home to find a bill for demolition services from the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service.

“I opened it up and I’m dumbfounded to find a bill for almost $6,600 for the demolition of my house, not the house that burned down, but my house,” Ball said.

“It just feels like it’s adding insult to injury after all this.”

Read more: Threat to Winnipeg communities from derelict buildings continues

In a statement to Global News Wednesday, a city spokesperson for the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service said they made a billing address error, and were working to contact the homeowner.

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“The bill for the demolition was sent to the homeowners at 199 Matheson Avenue East in error following a structure fire at a neighbouring home,” the statement said.

“WFPS apologizes for the discrepancy.”

Ball says the city needs to find a better way to deal with derelict buildings in a more timely fashion.

“We need to be able to stay on top of things like this. If this has been dealt with in the beginning there wouldn’t have been the fire,” Ball said.

“We’re dropping the ball when it comes to dealing with issues before they become disasters, and before someone loses a life.”

— with files from Rosanna Hempel

&© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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