Minto Apartments tumbles down

Tyler Clarke
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As the Minto Apartments received its first deathblow with an excavator, Mayor Greg Dionne watched as closely as crews allowed him to be, a grin on his face.


“Oh yeah,” he said as the excavator’s bucket struck the building, smashing through a third-floor window.

“My favourite sound,” the mayor said while glass shattered.

If crews from Dmyterko Enterprises Ltd. allowed him, Dionne said that he would have loved to drive the equipment into the building, himself.

It’s been a long time coming, Dionne said, noting that he’s been campaigning under a promise to tear down the building for at least 11 years.

The city placed a demolition order on the building in November, 2004 -- an order owner Larry Markwart has consistently battled since that time.

Although issues around the building remain in the court system, Dionne said that the city’s elected officials decided enough was enough.

During an in camera meeting last week, they voted in favour of demolishing the building immediately.

In late 2012, the city took title of the property as a result of unpaid taxes.

With the property in city’s hands, they had the legal right to demolish it, Markwart’s lawyer Peter Abrametz Sr. confirmed on Monday.

Although surprised to learn mid-afternoon that the building was three-quarters rubble, he concluded, “that’s fine.

“The issues that I’m suing on have to do with the value of the property and not getting it back, so let them bulldoze it,” he said.

“We’re looking at the appraised value of the property and loss of income and the like.”

The ballpark figure Abrametz is using hovers around the $750,000 mark.

Although a potential legal battle remains in front of the City of Prince Albert, Dionne said that he’s happy to have the Minto Apartments building out of the picture -- a building he refers to by its nickname, “The Snakepit.”

“There were numerous complaints for this building, plus this building holds the record for having the most police calls, ever, in a year,” Dionne said.

In 2009, lawyer Neil Fisher, representing the city in court, noted that police responded to 396 calls to the Minto Apartments building in 2003.

Reason enough to move forward with the demolition is the death of Alice Margaret Ballantyne, 46 who was found dead in the building in January, 2005, a few months after the demolition order was put into place and all of the residents were evicted.

Ballantyne bled to death following a confrontation in the Minto Apartments building for which Audrey Freda Bignose was found guilty of manslaughter.

“I really want the building condemned, but there's nothing done yet,” Ballantyne’s sister, Freda Denego, wrote in a letter to the Daily Herald published in 2006.

“I would appreciate it if something could be done about the building.”

Dionne said that he still has the heebie-jeebies when he thinks about the 2004 tour he took of the building.

Now that it’s gone, the city can look to improving the entire area.

The city is going to consider consolidating the property with a neighboring parking lot in order to sell as either the location for a high-rise housing complex or a commercial entity.

“There are lots of possibilities,” he concluded. “It’s a great opportunity for the city.” 

Organizations: Daily Herald

Geographic location: Ninth Street East, Prince Albert

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