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Tear down burned fast food joint, say residents and businesses

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Calls are growing for the City of London to tear down the remains of a former Dairy Queen on Wharncliffe Road South.

Charred debris, graffiti, and garbage is all that remains of the site.

“I understand that when a fire happens we have to investigate, and we have to determine what caused it and all that,” said area resident Jeremy McCall. “But once it's finished it should have some sort of prompt timeline to come down because it poses a safety hazard and an eyesore to the community,” he said.

McCall is calling for the city to tear the site down. Closed for several years, the building was set ablaze in December 2021, and again earlier this summer.

 Across the road, Gerry Farr, who owns Elmwood cars says it’s dangerous, not to mention a blight on the Wharncliffe business strip.

“Yeah it does bother me,” said Farr. “You'd think the city would say, after a certain amount of time say, 'let's get this thing cleaned up.' They could set it on fire again. People could get hurt. There's kids around playing and so it's easy to get through them fences and so, stuff like that.”

Calls are growing to tear down the remains of a former Dairy Queen on Wharncliffe Road South in London, Ont. on Thursday, Sept. 8, 2022. (Bryan Bicknell/CTV News London)City councillor Elizabeth Peloza said the owner was given until Aug. 30 to bring the property up to standards. Now it’s just a matter of going through the legal steps before the city moves in to tear it down.

“Part of the process is finding out who owns the property. Where are they? Is it a holding company? An owner, are they local? Are they away, are they overseas? Has there been a death in the family or has the property been sold? The legal ownership of the building to know who should get the bill and who we should be working with,” said Peloza.

In August 2021 a massive fire took place at an abandoned warehouse on Centre Street, just behind the site of the fires at the former fast food joint. The warehouse building was known to attract squatters, and the fire took place under similar suspicious circumstances.

Resident Jeremy McCall said such activity is becoming all too common in the neighbourhood.

“There doesn't seem to be much incentive to keep people from setting these sorts of fires in empty buildings,” he said.

In the meantime, according to Peloza, a city staff report on the status of the Wharncliffe Road South property is expected during this term of council, before the October election. 

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