Bay Roberts could be on the hook for cost of burned-out Lions Club cleanup

By Mark Squibb/January 27, 2023

The former Shearstown Lions Club burnt to the ground in the early hours of Christmas Eve, and while the flames have long been put out, council still has questions about who is responsible for covering the cost of cleaning up the mess.

Councillor Frank Deering broached the subject during this week’s meeting, asking how the Town can go about recovering money if used to clean up the site.

Deputy Mayor Geoff Seymour, standing in for Mayor Walter Yetman, who was absent from the meeting, put the question to CAO Nigel Black.

“Usually, what we would do, and I know that this is a different process with this most recent fire, but usually what we would do is issue an order and give whoever might own it a certain period of time to clean it up, and if they clean it up, good, but if they don’t, we would undertake to clean it up ourselves,” said Black, noting the Town had done that before following a different fire some years back. “What happens then, is the cost of that clean up is added to the tax account for that piece of property. And at some point, in time, if that property should change hands in the future, that would be addressed, and we would likely recover our money. In the case of the Shearstown Lions Club, I think we would treat it the same, but the likelihood of recovering our money is probably lesser because I think the likelihood of someone obtaining that piece of land is less likely than it would be with a normal residential piece of property.”

Black said that if the Town does the clean up, the cost would be charged to a tax account associated with the property.

“If someone were to ever acquire it sometime, they would have to pay that amount,” said Black. “And if they didn’t, that’s something that council ends up being on the hook for.”

Black said the Town has begun the process of issuing a clean up order, despite the building having no owner.

“We felt it was necessary to do a formal order just so when we add the taxes to the account, it has some basis for being there,” said the CAO.

Deputy Mayor Seymour said the Town can’t just leave the mess laying there unattended.

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