The former Wigamog Inn on Kashagawigamog Lake has faced vandalism on multiple occasions. /DARREN LUM Staff

Wigamog owners plan to demolish site

By Vivian Collings
Owners of what was the former Wigamog Resort say they plan to demolish the site following their appeal for more time to comply with an order from the municipality to follow the Property Standards Bylaw to properly board windows and other openings of all structures.
During the Sign and Property Standards Committee Meeting on Thursday, Aug. 4, the appeal was modified to extend the Property Standards Order 60 more days while the owner of the property makes plans to properly demolish the site.
This order was issued by bylaw enforcement officer Rob Mascia on June 8 after multiple complaints were filed since 2019 about trespassers on the dilapidated, unsafe site.
The order was sent and returned by Canada Post as the Wigamog owners had not provided an updated address, so the order was sent by email almost a month later.

Owner Akash Aurora agreed to board up the property, but said more time was needed to do so. Staff could not issue an extension of the order, so Aurora submitted a Notice of Appeal explaining why he needed more time.
The Notice of Appeal was submitted late as it was received by the municipality on July 21 and the deadline was June 27.
Aurora said, “When I got the order on the 21 of July from Rob, I looked at it, it seemed pretty straight-forward and was something we had already done before, [and there was concern] that trespassers would just rip off the boards and create more mess. What we have organized within the last week and a half [is] all of the material that would be needed. We just need more time to complete it, however, my construction manager was actually at the property, and I had the chance to overview it myself. We also spoke to neighbouring [property owners] to ask them how they think we can stop [vandalism] from happening in the future. One of the things we boarded up just gets ripped off again and it’s an issue constantly.”
He turned it over to his construction manager to share their plans.

The construction manager said the environment is also constantly changing, and it would be impossible to keep the site safe for a long period of time with boarding of windows alone.
“My advice for Akash would be to go there and flatten the land and prepare everything to have development that we are proposing to do instead of just patching the [buildings] … The best course of action for me would be to start doing the proper work needed, which is demolition, applying for the permits for our new builds, and go from there,” said the owner’s construction manager.
“Demolishing would take more than a few weeks rather than boarding it, obviously there’s an aspect of disposing, bringing in the heavy machinery, but I do also believe that this is a better take than just boarding it up,” Aurora said.
The construction manager said that 30 days would be needed to get the proper construction quotes to decide on a company.
Mascia said he can look into a timeline for the issuing of a demolition permit.
“Something has to be done. That’s my main concern. We can’t control people trespassing and we also don’t want the chance that someone’s going to trespass on the property and hurt themselves. This has been abandoned for so long, so we want to make sure that public safety is number one here,” he said.
Mascia said if they are not able to demolish the site within a reasonable timeline, they must uphold the property standards order to board openings.

Member of the Sign and Property Standards Committee Jerry Stokes said, “This is probably the most positive thing I’ve heard to come out of that site because it’s really just putting band-aids on it by sticking plywood over the windows. I’m hoping that the owners of the Pinestone and the Wigamog are sincere that they want to remove this eyesore and not look for another extension where it will be tied into approved building process … I want to make sure that we’re looking at the removal of what’s there as a separate item that is not tied into the approval of what may be built down the road.”
Mayor of Dysart et al Andrea Roberts agreed and commented on the prolonged timeline for the lack of action regarding the property.
“I’m just rather frustrated that it has taken this long to come to this decision, that it had to come to an appeal. This has been going on since 2019, and even at that time it was determined by many people that the buildings were beyond repair,” she said.
Roberts said if she lived in that area, she would be concerned about her own property value.
“That is on one of our premier lakes, and it’s really an eyesore to Dysart. I would like to know through whatever resolution we have that we can make this a commitment with a time frame on it because one of the authorities of the Property Standards Committee has is that if you don’t do the work, we do it for you, and the bill goes on your tax bill,” Roberts said.
Aurora said their eventual goal has always been to re-develop the property, but it is completely separate from the demolition.
He said one of their other sites had been fully demolished in a six month period.
Sign and Property Standards Committee member Glenn Scott said a longer period of time will need to be offered to the owners to allow for demolition.
“We’re not going to be able to resolve anything today in my mind because we don’t know what the building department’s going to say … I’m wondering when there’s going to be a part two of this meeting,” Scott said.
Stokes said hazards like PCBs and asbestos should be acknowledged beforehand so a professional demolition crew is prepared to deal with them.
Municipal Clerk Mallory Bishop said a decision needed to be made about the Property Standards Order to board openings regardless of demolition plans, and it can be modified at a later date if necessary.
Roberts said 30 days would likely not be a feasible timeline.
“This is a major commercial development, so I’m going to suggest 60 days to modify this order,” Roberts said.
Stokes was concerned the new modification of the order did not include any information about plans to demolish.
Bishop revised the modification to read, “compliance must be met on Oct. 3, 2022, and further directs that another meeting will be convened as soon as demolition plans and schedules are available for review.”