Cheryl Ashlie wants to speed up the demolition of derelict homes, several of them still managed by her Maple Ridge council colleague, Al Hogarth.
The homes occupy two future condo sites, and Ashlie thinks tearing them down will make life easier for surrounding neighbours.
“How will we manage these properties while we’re waiting for these developments to come through?” Coun. Cheryl Ashlie asked at council’s committee meeting Monday.
“Timewise, can we ask that happen up front, that these properties are cleared away quickly?
“When can we see removal of properties, that essentially may be boarded up or may be problem properties?”
Two old homes remain on the site where a three-tower condo residence is proposed for the corner of Edge Street and Brown Avenue. That project has first reading and was forwarded to a regular council meeting for second reading and public hearing.
The project will be built in phases, first a six-storey tower, followed by 13- and 19-storey towers.
Council heard that the district can demand the two houses be torn down before rezoning is granted.
Another project, on 223rd Street and St. Anne Avenue, proposes a four-storey apartment building on three lots, requiring the ripping down of two old homes.
The developer wants a year’s extension for the rezoning application.
Ashlie wanted to know if it’s possible to require demolition of the two homes before the district gives an extension.
“Is there anything we can do about the existing buildings there that are problematic? Because they could sit for over a year.”
Council heard that, legally, the district can’t do much, apart from talk to the owners to press for early demolition.
The project includes incorporating the historic Turnock/Morse house at 22309 St. Anne Ave., into a restored two-unit duplex. But the back section of that was raided three times by police in the past few years.
“We’ve got to start putting pressure on these guys. We just can’t have these homes sitting there and the neighbourhood put up with these behaviours,” Ashlie said.
“It’s taking our police efforts, our fire department efforts … when we’re having to put that much energy into it and you’re giving somebody a year’s extension, I just think needs to be that agreement … the neighbourhood really welcomes your project, but what’s going until you get there is not welcome and please do something about it.”
She pointed out the district pressured the developer to tear down the old homes on the northwest corner of Brown Ave. and Edge St. before that project was built.
“We’re the ones who are spending the money on the management if the boards get taken down and people start squatting and garbage starts getting dumped – we have to deal with that at no cost to the developer.”
Coun. Al Hogarth manages two of the lots at the St. Anne Avenue site, at 22309 and 22331 St. Anne and used to manage the middle property, 22319, until he gave an eviction notice to the tenant in October 2012.
However the tenant is still there.
“But this guy just keeps wandering around. He even signed an agreement he would be out at the end of October, signed it in front of an RCMP officer.”
It’s that middle home that’s now causing the complaints, Ashlie added later.
Hogarth said since he gave the eviction notice, he no longer manages the middle home, saying that’s now up to the property owner.
He said that owners have tried to comply by keeping the properties secured. A tiny apartment was removed from the heritage house which required dismantling a bathroom and kitchen.
“It’s not like these guys haven’t tried to comply.”
Sometimes RCMP had to be on site. “There were some threats uttered at the same time.”
Hogarth said as far as he knows the rear portion of the 22309 St. Anne that was slapped with a no occupancy order following the police raid in March, remains vacant.
Five people were arrested.
“I’ve had no report from the legitimate tenant [at the front of the house]. It’s been secured at the times I have been around.”
He said it’s up to council to decide how to manage the site.
“Personally, I think the owners should do whatever council is suggesting there.”
Hogarth excused himself from the council meeting and those two discussions because of possible conflict of interest on both sites.
He used to manage the two homes on Brown, but still manages a house farther down the road, which has the same owner, Ascent One Properties, which wants to build the towers.
Ashlie said that her council colleague knows how she feels about the properties, but also understands the difficulties facing landlords under the Residential Tenancy Act.
“The landlord is not always the bad guy.”