Laura Gillanders is sick and tired of empty homes like this one in her once vibrant Richmond neighbourhood. (Google Maps)

Richmond woman ‘sick’ of empty homes

Laura Gillanders says the empty home on her street illustrates the larger housing crisis

Laura Gillanders started tidying up the outside of a home down the street from her in Richmond’s Seafair neighbourhood as a neighbourly act of good will.

“It was sold, someone purchased it, built a new mansion on the lot,” Gillanders said. “For the first three year, I didn’t really mind. But it’s been three more years, and I got fed up with it.”

So she sent out her annoyance to the world via Twitter.

“Hey, owners of empty house for 6 years now. I clean up newspapers from all over your lawn, I bring in your green bin that the gardeners leave on the curb,” her tweet read. “I’m tired of being neighbourly RENT OUT YOUR HOUSE!”

Gillanders said the mansion is symptomatic of a much bigger issue.

“We are in a housing crisis and there are in empty homes. Children have to be raised in a condo and a house just sits empty. Families should be able to live here.”

A family used to live in a previous smaller house on the lot, she said, with kids who attended school and parents who were active participants in their city.

Now, her children’s school, Alfred B. Dixon Elementary, is on the school district’s closure list because of declining overall district enrolment.

“We’ve seen sports associations have to merge because there aren’t enough kids,” Gillanders said. “Hockey, soccer, lacrosse…”

Some residents have proposed a tax on empty homes, similar to the one Vancouver brought in last year, but she isn’t sure if that’s the right solution.

“An empty homes tax is a good idea, but there’s a lot of issues on how it’s set up,” she said. “I think at the municipal level, there can be lots of things that can be done.”

City spokesman Ted Townsend could not arrange for an interview with a city councillor, but said in an email to Black Press Media that there’s been no direction from council at this time to consider an empty home tax.

When the issue has been brought up in the past, Townsend said, most councillors were unconvinced it was necessary or that a tax would be “fair or effective.”

He said he could not provide any firm numbers on empty homes in Richmond, but estimates they “represent a small percentage.”

Gillanders hopes for a new group on council after the October civic election. “I don’t think our current city council has the political will to do anything creative.”

If it were up to her, she said she’d prefer incentives for people to rent out their homes, to shrink Richmond’s lot size, or to allow for coach homes and laneway houses – though she acknowledges both residents and council have resisted that idea.

“A lot of people don’t want the density because they want the idyllic large lots for their big family house,” she said.

“I don’t know how to get around that, but we’ve got to think of more creative ways…. The reality is that they just sit empty.”


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Homelessness group puts pressure on White Rock council

Peninsula Homeless to Housing task force brought forward three action steps for council

Stabbing at Surrey banquet hall sends man to hospital

RCMP says victim has ‘non-life threatening’ injuries, incident still under investigation

Slam poetry creates catharsis for North Delta youth

Burnsview Secondary team gearing up for poetry festival and competition in April

South Surrey parking ticket perplexes, frustrates

Theresa Delaney predicts more people will be wrongly ticketed

‘Just like Iron Man’: Calgary surgeon undergoes experimental spinal surgery

Dr. Richi Gill was in a freak accident on a boogie board during a family vacation in Hawaii

Sex abuse survivors to meet with Vatican summit organizers

Pope Francis has urged participants to meet with abuse victims before they came to Rome

Ex-FBI official: ‘Crime may have been committed’ by Trump

Andrew McCabe said FBI had good reason to open a counterintelligence investigation into whether Trump was in league with Russia

B.C. athlete takes home gold in freestyle aerials at Canada Games

Brayden Kuroda won the event with a combined score of 121.65.

Pedestrian in serious condition after hit by car downtown Abbotsford

A youth was also hit, suffered minor injuries, police say

Cabinet likely to extend deadline to reconsider Trans Mountain pipeline

New round of consultations with Indigenous communities is coming

B.C. government provides $75,000 towards salmon study

Study looks at abundance and health of Pacific salmon in Gulf of Alaska

Most Read

l -->