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Residents of Ottawa's prestigious Rockcliffe Park neighbourhood raise concerns over neglected and abandoned properties

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It's one of Ottawa's most prestigious and historic neighbourhoods, but there is another side to Rockcliffe Park, with a growing number of empty and neglected properties.

"It's not just an aesthetic matter. It's a very important health and safety issue as well," said Rockcliffe resident David Henderson.

Henderson grew up in the neighbourhood and says he's noticed a trend over the last number of years of abandoned, dilapidated and even demolished homes. He estimates there are about 12 in total.

"This sort of culture of decrepitude is not just reserved for ambassadorial residences. This is also an affliction of private residences where there are some people who own homes here that live abroad and they've just simply neglected the homes," said Henderson.

They aren't hard to spot either, including the former home of the high commissioner of Uganda, which was demolished in October without the proper permits.

A closer look at the partly demolished property. (Katelyn Wilson/CTV Viewer)

"We've been following along with the dialog and providing feedback to the city along the way but as you can see there hasn't really been any action at this point that we've seen in terms of tangible results," said Rockcliffe resident Sehrab Grewall.

Last month, the federal government declared Rockcliffe Park a national historic site, but Canada is the only G7 country without legislation to protect its historic buildings.

In a statement, Roger Chapman, director of by-law and regulatory services said "The City of Ottawa is aware of a number of vacant properties across the city and monitors them both proactively and in response to complaints. Notices of Violation and Orders are issued where required."

But when it comes to diplomatic residences, Heritage Ottawa says the city's hands are tied.

"You have some other countries that, for whatever reason, they don't have foreign locations here anymore or Canada has broken off ties. They fall between the cracks and then its over to Global Affairs to try and deal with it," said David Flemming, chair of the advocacy committee with Heritage Ottawa.

As for Henderson, he's raising awareness through his Instagram account decrepitrockcliffe, hoping to stop his neighbourhood from crumbling.

"It's the lack of action that's frustrating many neighbours and has driven people like me to do something about it and hopefully we can make a difference," said Henderson.

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