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Derelict White Rock houses demolished

A pair of White Rock houses that had been causing grief for some Stevens Street residents have been demolished.
Last week's demolition of two derelict houses on Stevens Street gets a thumbs-up from neighbour Geoff Giffin.

Two derelict houses on White Rock's Stevens Street that have been the subject of numerous complaints since 1998 have been demolished.

The city issued a news release Tuesday announcing last week's turn of events.

City manager Dan Bottrill told Peace Arch News that he received confirmation the buildings were gone last Wednesday (May 23) at 2 p.m.

"By Thursday morning, most of the debris from the homes were also removed," Bottrill said.

The homes – at 1029 and 1037 Stevens St. – had been the source of much grief for area1037 Stevens St. residents, particularly in recent years.

Geoff Giffin and Senga Fullam had appealed to White Rock council early last month to deal with the site – which had become a health and fire hazard – after years of "quietly" waiting produced little results.

The couple live immediately north of the site, and had watched helplessly as the buildings and property became increasingly unsightly, drawing vermin and an increasing number of scavengers.

Fines levied by the city against the out-of-country property owners since 2010 did little to persuade them to take action.

Giffin said this week that the bulk of the problem that's plagued the neighbourhood was dealt with in about two hours.

The entire process was finished by Friday afternoon and monitored throughout by city staff.

The effort did not go unnoticed.

"A lot of people came by afterward and said, 'wow, they're gone'," said Giffin, thrilled a resolution has finally been reached.

"I think the pressure that we put on (the city), and the city then put on the owner, I think made the difference."

Council gave unanimous support to enforcing a cleanup of the site at its April 2 meeting, after hearing details of the mess – which included that garbage was piled waist-high in one of the houses – from Giffin and Fullam.

Staff were directed to notify the owners – identified as Taiwan residents Chi T. Tsang and Chen-Hung Tsang – that they had until May 4 to clean up the site or the city would do it and then take steps to recover the costs.

The demolition threat was put on hold after some action was taken to address the problem.

Giffin said while the site-clearing didn't draw a huge crowd, it did leave the neighbourhood with a feeling that perhaps playing by the rules can work.

"Maybe there's a sense that we need to focus on what's right, not ignore what's wrong," he said.

Kelvin Brown, a Cliff Avenue resident who often walks his dog, Abby, past the property, said while he lives far enough away that the buildings didn't bother him, their removal has been cause for celebration.

"There's been cheers going up around the neighbourhood," he said.

Bottrill said the end result is what the city had ultimately hoped for.

"At the end of the day, I think it's fair to say that we're pleased that the owner took care of the situation."


Tracy Holmes

About the Author: Tracy Holmes

Tracy Holmes has been a reporter with Peace Arch News since 1997.
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