Vacant house in White Rock has neighbours riled

White Rock resident Mitchell Spreitzer stands in front of an unoccupied duplex on Nichol Road that is littered with trash and debris. - Alex Browne photo
White Rock resident Mitchell Spreitzer stands in front of an unoccupied duplex on Nichol Road that is littered with trash and debris.
— image credit: Alex Browne photo

Mitchell Spreitzer and his wife Michelle Jorgensen think it's about time something was done about cleaning up a White Rock property neighbouring their own.

The unoccupied duplex, at 1575/1577 Nichol Rd. has three large metal containers full of hazardous asbestos insulation waste on the front lawn and driveway – but that's not the greatest part of their concern.

Garbage of all kinds, including household belongings, a couch, a smashed phone and an old mattress are strewn across the remainder of the grass and into the carport, and the couple said the debris stretches all the way around the house to the edge of their own Coldicutt Road property.

"We're sick and tired of looking at it," said Spreitzer, who added the eyesore aspect of the property – for which a demolition permit has been requested by the owner – isn't the worst of it.

"There's meat in the garbage – rotting pork hocks on the driveways," he said. "It's only a matter of time before we get rats here."

He wondered what is taking the city's bylaw department so long to follow up with a site inspection after closing down an illegal fourplex operation on the property at the end of May.

In the last communication he had received from a bylaw officer – almost two months before – it was noted that the recent job action by city workers had delayed the inspection.

Friday, city communications officer Shannon Levesque told Peace Arch News that bylaw officers had been by the property and had "requested the owner to remove the debris."

At press time, she could not confirm whether a time limit had been imposed on the request or whether the city had recourse to enforce it through the city's unsightly properties bylaw.

The ongoing drama with the property started when Spreitzer contacted the planning department in June 2013 to complain that the building was being used as a fourplex contrary to the neighbourhood zoning.

The city investigated and the property owner was ultimately given until May 29 of this year to remove the additional suites.

Tenants were still in the property up until then, Spreitzer said, and when they left, household garbage was left behind.

A large quantity of asbestos insulation was also removed from the house, which has been placed in containers under WorkSafe BC supervision – although birds pecked through garbage bags covering the asbestos and dust was blowing about until WorkSafe officials duct-taped tarps onto them late last week.

Among other concerns Spreitzer and Jorgensen have about the property are broken glass, doors left open and inadequate fencing, plus bags of asbestos that are still unsealed.

They said they worry about children playing on the site, the potential for teens or adults to break into the house and general health hazards in an area that boasts well-kept, high-priced homes. And they wonder why a property slated for redevelopment should be exempt from basic community standards.

"If I kept my lawn like this, the city would be all over me," Jorgensen said.


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