Delta, White Rock take swift action against illegal builders

Delta, White Rock take swift action against illegal builders

Surrey has more than 70 legal files on hold.

While neighbouring cities are dropping the hammer on people putting additions on their homes illegally, Surrey continues to face unauthorized building at a level staff describe as” rampant.”

Conservative estimates are that the city has placed more than 100 stop-work orders on illegally constructed homes.

But when it comes to taking legal action, it’s unclear how many cases the City of Surrey is pursuing.

City solicitor Craig MacFarlane said last week he was unable to determine right away how many of illegal building cases are before the courts.

“I’d have to get back to you on that,” MacFarlane said.

MacFarlane still hasn’t returned Leader calls for clarification.

In Delta, Director of Community Planning and Development Tom Leatham said it’s that municipality’s policy to act quickly.

“That’s the message we’re trying to send. ‘We will move swiftly and harshly when we find you’,” Leatham said.

“Our policy is to jump on them real fast, and not let it slide. Word tends to get out when you come down hard on a few of them, you know, ‘you’re not going to get away with this so easily’.”

Delta begins with a graduating scale of enforcement that starts with a call from an inspector telling the homeowner to put the building back to the condition it was in on its last city approval.

If that order is followed by silence, the file goes to the legal department.

There are other options, but Leatham prefers to take legal action because the results come quickly.

“We’ve been pretty successful in getting injunctions,” Leatham said, adding the court typically gives the homeowner 60 days to tear down the illegal addition.

White Rock also prefers to act quickly.

Paul Stanton, director of planning for the City of White Rock, said the municipality mainly uses two avenues for illegal building.

“We have two recourses, either civil litigation or the other is to go through Section 57 of the Community Charter, post a notice on title (of the land), which will make it difficult for them to refinance or to sell the property,” Stanton said. The only remedy for the homeowner at that point is to restore the property to its state on last approval.

While illegal construction is not a runaway problem in White Rock, it happens from time to time.

“It happens on occasion. It’s part of why we have a bylaw enforcement function and a building inspection function,” Stanton said, adding the notice on title has achieved a much higher level of compliance than civil litigation.

In Surrey, staff acknowledge the problem is rampant.

Just weeks before the last civic election, Surrey council agreed to a request from a group called Surrey Residents Association, which wanted all legal action against illegal construction put on hold. The city placed more than 70 lawsuits in abeyance.

About six months after that council decision, building inspectors and bylaw officials said they felt as though their jobs were being viewed as some kind of joke, according to the president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 402.

“When you’re trained to do a job, then you’re trained to ignore it for whatever reason, it really is demoralizing,” Laurie Larsen said at the time.

Larson, also a school trustee with Surrey First Education, said she last week she hadn’t heard any further complaints from the building department.

“Either it isn’t an issue, or other things are more important, or they’ve just resigned themselves to the fact that nothing can be done.”

If it’s the latter case, she said, it would be quite unfortunate.

Meanwhile residents continue to complain that illegal construction continues at breakneck speed in this city.

Newton resident Andrew Houghton said when he called a building inspector to complain about illegal building in his neighbourhood, she replied that the situation was “rampant across the city” and that there was nothing she could do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

In 2017, a member of the Disneyana Fan Club curated a small Community Treasures exhibit at the Museum of Surrey about the early days of Disney and the cartoonist Walt Disney. The museum is now accepting applications for its 2022 Community Treasures exhibition. (Photo: Submitted)
Museum of Surrey wants to spotlight local organizations and clubs

Museum now accepting applications for its 2022 Community Treasures exhibit

The cover of Golf 101 with Bob Dimpleton (left), an instructional book created by South Surrey golf pro Mark Kuhn (inset). Right, a page from the book detailing what to do if your ball lands on the cart path. (Contributed images)
South Surrey golf pro releases new edition of popular instructional book

Mark Kuhn’s Dimpleton family returns in updated Golf 101 e-book

Musician Dana Vande is seen in a screenshot from a music video on Youtube. Vande recently released a pro-lockdown track in response to an Eric Clapton and Van Morrison anti-lockdown track.
Cloverdale musician writes pandemic response song to Van Morrison and Eric Clapton

Dana Vande answers a Clapton-Morrison anti-lockdown track with a pro-lockdown track

Surrey RCMP Constable Mike Della-Paolera as seen in a cut-out used for the detachment’s Operation Double Take program. (File photo)
Surrey’s tall ‘Operation Double Take’ cop is on the move

Cut-out of Constable Mike Della-Paolera used in program to curb speeding and dangerous driving

Delta Police Constable Jason Martens and Dezi, a nine-year-old German Shepherd that recently retired after 10 years with Delta Police. (Photo submitted)
Delta Police dog retires on a high note after decade of service

Nine-year-old German Shepherd now fights over toys instead of chasing down bad guys

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

A female prisoner sent Langford police officers a thank-you card after she spent days in their custody. (Twitter/West Shore RCMP)
Woman gives Victoria-area jail 4.5-star review in handwritten card to police after arrest

‘We don’t often get thank you cards from people who stay with us, but this was sure nice to see’: RCMP

An elk got his antlers caught up in a zip line in Youbou over the weekend. (Conservation Officer Service Photo)
Elk rescued from zip line in Youbou on Vancouver Island

Officials urge people to manage items on their property that can hurt animals

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A Trail man has a lucky tin for a keepsake after it saved him from a stabbing last week. File photo
Small tin in Kootenay man’s jacket pocket saved him from stabbing: RCMP

The man was uninjured thanks to a tin in his jacket

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chantel Moore, 26, was fatally shot by a police officer during a wellness check in the early morning of June 4, 2020, in Edmundston, N.B. (Facebook)
Frustrated family denied access to B.C. Indigenous woman’s police shooting report

Independent investigation into B.C. woman’s fatal shooting in New Brunswick filed to Crown

Nurses collect samples from a patient in a COVID suspect room in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at St. Paul’s hospital in downtown Vancouver, Tuesday, April 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
5 British Columbians under 20 years old battled COVID-19 in ICU in recent weeks

Overall hospitalizations have fallen but young people battling the virus in hospital has increased

Canada released proposed regulations Jan. 2 for the fisheries minister to maintain Canada’s major fish stocks at sustainable levels and recover those at risk. (File photo)
New laws would cement DFO accountability to depleted fish stocks

Three B.C. salmon stocks first in line for priority attention under proposed regulations

Trees destroyed a Shoreacres home during a wind storm Jan. 13, 2021. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay woman flees just before tree crushes house

Pamala DeRosa is thankful to be alive

Most Read