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'Main Street looks ugly': Community advocate demands city takes action on debris pile

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A massive pile of debris sits untouched on Main Street 16 months after a fire destroyed the building. Now, community advocates are demanding the city take action.

Surplus Direct at 843 Main St. was one of three buildings destroyed by a fire that tore through the block on Feb. 11, 2023. Three Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service (WFPS) members were taken to hospital after battling the blaze and several homes in the area were temporarily evacuated.

All three buildings were demolished following the incident, but the rubble at 843 Main St. hasn’t been removed. CTV News previously reported there were concerns about asbestos at the site.

Sel Burrows, the coordinator for community group Point Powerline, wants the city to step in.

“Main Street looks ugly. It's horrible for the people who live in the neighbourhood,” Burrows told CTV News. “And the city has no policy to deal with these and we must get these things cleaned up.”

Burrows said residents of North Point Douglas are fed up with the mess and that there’s no excuse allowing a burnt-out wreck to remain in place after 16 months.

“Business owners are responsible for cleaning it up,” Burrows explained. “If they are unwilling or financially unable to, the city has to move in quickly.”

Burrows suggested the city should take possession of razed properties, clean up debris, and recoup any money by selling the lot. He adds the city needs to take more initiative dealing with derelict buildings in the first place.

“We have people who are looking at this, seeing it’s a problem – but there’s no new initiatives going on,” Burrows said. “The wonderful people who live right behind this place just bought another house in North Point Douglas. People are investing in the inner-city communities. The city is not.”

Burrows also said the city needs to devise an action plan to deal with deliberately set fires.

“We have no policy on crime prevention, no policy on arson prevention. We need an arson task force.”  

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