Mike Homen in the backyard of the Cliff Avenue home that is about to be demolished. Homen is fed up with homeless people taking shelter in the carport and backyard.

Mike Homen in the backyard of the Cliff Avenue home that is about to be demolished. Homen is fed up with homeless people taking shelter in the carport and backyard.

Maple Ridge council orders house taken down

What took so long, asks Coun. Cheryl Ashlie; homeless shelter still a concern.

Maple Ridge council is getting heavy and ordered the demolition of a house that’s been a bother for a few years.

Politicians gave the go-ahead Monday to order the razing of the home at 22173 Cliff Ave.

Water pours through the ceiling, rats run riot inside, and the dark walls are crumbling. There’s no heat, water or electricity.

The owner was told last summer he was breaking a bylaw by allowing people to camp on his property. A staff report also says clients at Salvation Army’s Caring Place were storing belongings in the carport, shed and back yard.

Complaints about the house date back to 2004, first concerning rotting fencing that allowed people to enter the lot from the Sally Ann parking area.

Complaints came in about unkept grass, junk and overgrown vegetation. In 2009, the owner twice didn’t respond to clean-up orders, so the district hired a contractor and billed the owner.

Three more clean-up orders were given in 2010, the latest in November that year, to haul away clothing, luggage, computer parts, strollers, wood and cardboard.

So what took so long, asked Coun. Cheryl Ashlie.

“We need to tighten this up so neighbours are not facing this for this length of time.”

Coun. Mike Morden wanted know if the owner was given a choice of either fixing up the home or tearing it down.

But bylaws director Liz Holitzky said it would cost too much to repair, adding the owner has that option, providing he submits a plan for doing so.

That option was given to the owner earlier, said public works general manager Frank Quinn.

Nearby resident Mike Homen complained in March about the problems caused by homeless people at the house.

But he wonders if tearing it down and making an empty lot will make any difference.

“That’s the meeting centre. When they want to go have a toke or shoot up, they go … to the carport.”

But the situation has improved in the area in the past few weeks as bylaw officials and police target the area. However, many homeless are now digging into the hill side farther down the slope and out of sight, he points out.

Homen says it would be nice if Sally Ann employees were more proactive. “Once in a while, why couldn’t they knock on doors and say, How’s it going?’”

Once the order has been issued, the owner will have two weeks to appeal the order. But if no response is received, the owner will have to tear down the house within a month or the district will do it for him and add it on to his taxes.

Salvation Army spokesman Amelia Norrie said the Salvation Army is aware of the home and supports anything that increases neighbourhood security.

Rebecca Pretty is the pastor at the Caring Place and said previously that the homeless shelter is doing its best to be a good neighbour.

Anyone who stays at the 55-bed shelter must sign a “good neighbour agreement,” which states they won’t associate with those camped out behind the shelter. Volunteers from the shelter also take part in a weekly community clean-up.

“When clients stay here, we hold them accountable,” she said.

Most people who are causing problems in the area are banned from the Sally Ann, added Darrell Pilgram, Salvation Army director.

Pretty said many of those camped out behind the shelter have been kicked out of the shelter for offences like threatening the staff or guests, or doing drugs on the premises.

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