City of Surrey staff say they are cracking down on illegal building.

City of Surrey staff say they are cracking down on illegal building.

Surrey turns up the heat on illegal building

Residents and building professionals say unauthorized construction continues despite clampdown.

Surrey is ramping up its enforcement of illegal building, with 66 homeowners now being investigated for unauthorized construction.

Many say it’s about time, with several residents, real estate agents and builders calling The Leader in recent weeks to report houses under construction that were continuing to have decks closed in to increase the square footage of the homes.

On Oct. 4, The Leader reported Surrey staff had characterized the illegal building issue in the city as “rampant.”

Jean LaMontagne, Surrey’s general manager of planning and development, said last Thursday there have been 240 stop-work orders placed on dwellings with unauthorized construction since September 2008. About one-third of those have been forwarded to the legal department.

Just two days earlier, City Solicitor Craig MacFarlane said there were 66 files receiving various levels of enforcement – including warning letters and evidence gathering – with two before B.C. Supreme Court.

Just prior to the last civic election, the city had 63 lawsuits in the works against people who had added to their homes illegally, mostly filling in decks without civic approval. Of those, 10 have since complied with building requirements, leaving 53 legal actions on hold.

They were shelved after a newly formed group called the Surrey Ratepayers Association approached council just weeks before the 2008 civic election asking the elected officials to “direct that all actions by the city related to seeking compliance with the RF zone (single family residential) related to unauthorized additions or deck enclosures be held in abeyance.”

The group brought a petition with more than 4,000 names on it.

Council acquiesced and at the same time started a process of re-examining all single-family residential (RF) zones, with the possibility of increasing square footage from 3,550 square feet to 4,550 square feet.

The increase in size would render most of the unauthorized expansions legal, so long as an engineer or other qualified professional signs off on the work.

MacFarlane said the 66 enforcement actions are in addition to the 53 now being held in abeyance.

“There’s two just waiting for the hearing date, We’re ready to go to trial,” he said.

He said the city sometimes uses Section 57 of the Community Charter to put a note on the property, which makes it difficult to obtain financing or to sell it.

But, as in Delta’s case, Surrey finds it more beneficial to cycle the offenders through the courts if they can’t get compliance.

“The best way, we’ve found, is to use Supreme Court action for a mandatory injunction,” MacFarlane said.

As for the court actions being held in abeyance, MacFarlane said the city is waiting for the outcome of the RF zone review before deciding what will happen to them.

Meanwhile, North Surrey’s Rod Raymond, among several others, told The Leader he continues to see  decks being closed in after final inspection.

If Surrey has initiated a clampdown, Raymond says, it hasn’t had much of an effect yet.

LaMontagne acknowledges that the 240 stop-work orders are only a portion of the illegal building occurring in Surrey.

He encourages anyone who knows of illegal construction to call city hall at 591-4011.

 

Just Posted

Semiahmoo First Nation archeology manager Don Welsh (left) sifts through shell midden at a Crescent Beach site in August 2019. (File photo)
Semiahmoo First Nation to repatriate 200 ancestors

B.C. grant funding return of remains from Simon Fraser University

The City of Surrey partnered with the Work Zone Safety Alliance last year to remind drivers to slow down in construction zones. (File photo)
White Rock, Surrey motorists asked to slow down in ‘cone zones’

Provincewide campaign encouraging residents to be mindful of construction workers

White Rock RCMP received more than 80 calls for service between Friday and Sunday night (May 14-16, 2021). (Aaron Hinks file photo)
White Rock beachgoers fined for fires, public intoxication

Majority of weekend visitors were well-behaved, police say

Fraser Valley Heritage Rail Society volunteers stand on the train platform in Cloverdale in 2020. A new exhibit about FVHRS and Surrey’s train history opens at the Museum of Surrey June 2. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
New exhibition on Surrey’s train history to open at Museum of Surrey

Separate two-day event welcomes kids June 25-26

A new DPD team began targeting gang-related activity on May 15, including checking on individuals who must abide by curfews and conditions. (Delta Police Department photo)
Delta police taking action to address gang conflict

Three-pronged strategy focused on interdiction, investigation and prevention

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

Sicamous RCMP Sgt. Murray McNeil and Cpl. Wade Fisher present seven-year-old Cody Krabbendam of Ranchero with an award for bravery on July 22, 2020. (Contributed)
7-year old Shuswap boy receives medal of bravery for rescuing child at beach

Last summer Cody Krabbendam jumped into the lake to save another boy from drowning

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the province’s COVID-19 vaccine program, May 10, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays below 500 a day over weekend

14 more deaths, down to 350 in hospital as of Monday

Royal Bay Secondary School’s rainbow crosswalk was vandalized shortly after being painted but by Monday, coincidentally the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, the crosswalk had been cleaned up and students had surrounded it with chalk messages of support and celebration. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C. high’s school’s pride crosswalk restored following ‘hateful’ graffiti attack

Hate terms, racial slur, phallic images spray-painted at Greater Victoria high school

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

Terrance Mack would have celebrated his 34th birthday on May 13, 2021. Mack’s family has identified him as the victim of a homicide in an apartment on Third Avenue in Port Alberni sometime in April. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Family identifies Ucluelet man as victim of Vancouver Island homicide

Terrance Mack being remembered as ‘kind, gentle’ man

Vancouver Canucks’ Jake Virtanen (18) and Calgary Flames’ Josh Leivo, front right, vie for the puck as goalie Jacob Markstrom, back left, watches during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, on Saturday, February 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver Canucks forward Jake Virtanen sued over alleged sexual assault

Statement of claim says the woman, identified only by her initials, suffered physical and emotional damages

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

Most Read