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Surrey orders removal of illegal fill

"Our plant was like a refugee camp for rats," John Sangha
Amrik Sangha

A north Surrey man has 60 days to remove an estimated 500 truck loads of dirt he dumped into a city ditch.

Amrik Sangha, the owner of Gurcharan Enterprises Ltd., at 11678 130 St. in Bridgeview, unlawfully filled a critical drainage ditch in the wetland area.

The city wants Sangha to return the ditch to its previous condition.

"The owner had made requests to city staff in the past, most recently in 2009, to be allowed to fill the canal and had been denied," a staff report to council states.

Sangha's son told council Monday the old ditch created so many rodent problems, it became impossible to run a food handling business.

Rats tend to live in man-made slopes and ditches, said John Sangha, CEO of  Global Agricultural Transporting.

"Our plant was like a refugee camp for rodents," Sangha said.

The company has a full time employee just to deal with the pest problem, Sangha said.

His father, Amrik, said the property was run down when they purchased the property four years ago.

He said he tried to have pest control agencies deal with the problem, but they wanted him to deal with the ditch first.

"You need the water problem solved before we can deal with the rat problem," Sangha said they told him.

Sangha's engineer forwarded a plan for a widened channel, with a lined wall on the side toward Sangha's property.

He called Surrey's request to put it back the way it was a "1997 solution to a 2011 problem."

The city outlined a litany of problems with the site, including structures that have been built without permits and encroachments into the city's rights of way on the property.

Since 1995, the City of Surrey has spent $10 million on drainage improvements in the area.

The city's engineer said the previous ditch system offers better floodwater protection. He also said Sangha's alternate plan would not benefit the city and that he doubted it would solve any of Sangha's problems.

The city's lawyer told council issuing an order for remedial action is council's best course.

"The infill is a nuisance and presents a potential flooding hazard,"  he said."We want to make sure this doesn't happen again and that people will think twice before doing this to their property."

Sangha said earlier this month  it cost him $1 million to fill the ditch, and expects it to cost another $500,000 to remediate it the way the city wants.

Surrey supported a remediation order, asking staff to work with Sangha on an acceptable removal plan and report back to to council in 30 days. He has 60 days from now to complete the work.