News

Maple Ridge council mum on derelict homes

A house at the corner of St. Anne
A house at the corner of St. Anne's Avenue and 223rd Street in Maple Ridge.
— image credit: Colleen Flanagan/The News

Maple Ridge Ernie Daykin admits it’s difficult when one councillor calls for the cleanup of property managed by another councillor.

“It puts all of us in an awkward spot,” Daykin said.

Coun. Cheryl Ashlie asked at council last week if the district can speed up demolition of two derelict homes on St. Anne Avenue. The owner of three lots at the corner of the St. Anne and 223rd Street wants to put up a condo, and Coun. Al Hogarth manages two of the houses and used to manage the third.

Hogarth excused himself from those discussions.

Ashlie didn’t mention Hogarth when she raised the topic.

One of the homes, at 22309 St. Anne Ave., has been raided by police three times in the past year and a half, with six people arrested in June 2012 and drugs seized.

That house will be restored as part of a heritage agreement with the district, but two others are slated to be torn down.

Daykin suggested council should talk with the property owner, manager and architect and say, “Listen, this is a problem, deal with it. If that doesn’t happen, maybe something else has to be done.

“I have challenges equally with the property owner,” Daykin said.

But he disagreed that the three properties are setting a bad example for the district and there are several other old homes, such as two burnt-out hulks on Lougheed Highway and 222nd Street, that need to come down.

Some homes recently have been demolished in Hammond, he pointed out.

“We’re doing what we can do. We have this lovely thing called private property. But on the other hand, when it impacts your neighbourhood, I think you lose some of your rights. With ownership, there’s responsibility.”

Daykin said Hogarth has problems with the Residential Tenancy Act.

It’s a question of how much money you want to spend on the properties if they’re eventually going to be bulldozed for redevelopment, the mayor added.

So far, only Ashlie and briefly Coun. Mike Morden, have commented on the St. Anne Avenue lots.

Ashlie takes council’s silence on the issue as support for her views, though no one else has spoken.

“Everybody just seems to support what I’m saying there.”

Ashlie said if council disagreed, she’d get more aggressive. But nobody so far has, so she assumes council feels the same way.

“Silence is an affirmation,” she said.

“I do see the dilemma he’s in.”

However, Ashlie said the homes have had the attention of bylaw officers and she has talked to Hogarth about it.

She understands affordable housing options are needed in the district, and if you tear down housing with trouble tenants, they still need a place to go.

According to bylaws director Liz Holitzki , there have only been a few complaints about the corner house at St. Anne and the grounds have been cleaned up.

A legitimate tenant is now in the front section of 22309 St. Anne, and the house also meets fire department requirements for security.

She didn’t know about a vacant bus in the back alley that appears to have someone living in it and said she’d check on that.

There also have been complaints from the tenant about the interior of the home at 22331 St. Anne Ave., under the building maintenance bylaw, Holitzki added.

Hogarth said he manages the properties professionally and told the owner to apply for a demolition permit.

“I’m not the owner. I’m the middle man. If it rests anywhere, it rests with the owner, not me.”

He disagreed that because the properties are awaiting development, they’re allowed to decay. He recently installed a new hot water heater in one. Investors redevelop at different times, he said.

Hogarth hopes his fellow councillors don’t feel uncomfortable and know that he’s doing what he can.

“I don’t question what they do in their lives. I could see if I was doing something totally wrong – or smoking crack or something. But I don’t do any of that stuff,” adding that he works within the limits set for property managers.

“It rests with the owner, it doesn’t rest with me.”

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