Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson has announced a new policy to deal with derelict buildings in the capital. Watson says the city is stepping up enforcement when it comes to maintaining rundown properties, including vacant heritage sites.

“What we will require is that any building that is just sitting there must not stick out like a sore thumb,” Watson said. “We’ll be insisting that owners keep up with regular repair on their assets.”

Watson also said the city will not be intimidated by threats of legal action from property owners of derelict buildings. He says Claude Lauzon, the owner of an abandoned heritage site on Cumberland St., threatened legal action against councillors Mathieu Fleury and Peter Hume for speaking out about the state of the property. Lauzon wants to tear the building down, while the city has ordered it to be repaired.

Watson says the city will be enforcing property maintenance standards for all derelict buildings, not just heritage sites. “It’s a problem that can affect any building in any part of the city of Ottawa,” he said. “This is an issue we intend to address head on.”

Watson says bylaw enforcement on buildings in disrepair will include making sure woodwork is painted, roofs are properly upheld, broken windows are fixed promptly, and debris and garbage are cleared from the property.

Councillor Peter Hume says city staff are also looking at ways to ensure building repairs are dealt with in a timely fashion. “That could include denying vacancy rebates on property taxes, or requiring a permit if you’re going to leave a building vacant,” he said.

Neighbours in the New Edinburgh area hope the city will crack down on abandoned buildings on Beechwood Ave. that have been long-time eyesores in the area.

“I think they definitely take away from the street there,” said Jessica Vaillancourt, an area resident.” An empty space is not good in any neighbourhood.”

The city will be holding a meeting on April 18 to address the community and the Protective Services Committee with more available options to deal with derelict buildings.

With files from CTV's Claudia Cautillo