In a report to City of White Rock councillors, staff provided a number of examples of property owners that built encroachments on city property. (City of White Rock image)

In a report to City of White Rock councillors, staff provided a number of examples of property owners that built encroachments on city property. (City of White Rock image)

White Rock council divided on how to approach encroachments

Staff to leave older encroachments alone, unless city has infrastructure plans for boulevard

City of White Rock councillors made a controversial decision Monday evening to abstain from widespread enforcement on property owners who have built or planted encroachments on city property.

However, any current and new property owners who wish to match their neighbour in overtaking city land will not be afforded the same luxury.

The direction from council also means that if a property owner has encroached on city property where the city plans to build infrastructure, such as sidewalks or a funicular, the property owner will be told to remove any encroachments.

After 30 minutes of discussion, and viewing examples of how some residents have taken over city land – including an extreme example where an owner paved over the entire grassy boulevard to make space for parking – council passed staff’s recommendation 5-2.

Couns. David Chesney and Scott Kristjanson voted against the motion.

Kristjanson said he preferred an option that would allow residents to appeal the enforcement on a case-by-case basis, while Chesney wanted each property owner, whether new or longtime, to receive an equal level of enforcement from the city.

Coun. Helen Fathers questioned how the city could reclaim land without upsetting homeowners who’ve encroached on city-owned property.

Chesney, who told Peace Arch News Tuesday he left the regular meeting “steaming,” expressed little sympathy for people who take over city land.

“Everybody seems to be, ‘well, people will get really mad at it,’” Chesney said.

“Oh really? They’ll get mad at us? And well, of course they will. You know, they’ve been allowed to use the city property for God knows how long.”

Chesney indicated it is unfair to allow one resident to continue to encroach on city property while their neighbour will not be allowed to build or plant on the city boulevard.

“It makes absolutely no sense to me.”

White Rock chief administration officer Dan Bottrill told council widespread enforcement comes at a cost, adding that the city has more leverage when dealing with new development.

In referencing the photograph of the paved boulevard – which staff deemed “unacceptable,” but Fathers said was a new development – Bottrill said the city may have recourse in terms of bonds or deposits to have it removed.

However, if the boulevard was paved more than two years ago, Bottrill said, the city has little power to force the resident remove it.

He used the example to highlight some of the complexities of doing widespread enforcement of encroachments.

“The property owner who put this in, say it was two years ago, may have sold the property a year later.

“We have now a property owner who assumed this was fine and now it’s not. We will have many cases of what I just described. To say that the existing property owner is now responsible, I’m not sure that’s the correct way to do it,” Bottrill told council.

Chesney told PAN the answer is simple.

“You remove it or we remove it and it goes on your tax notice at the end of the year,” Chesney told PAN. “If there’s some legality, there’s some reason why we can’t, then just tell me and I will shut up, but nobody, at this point, has told me.”

Coun. Christopher Trevelyan told council he agreed with the “holding-the-line” approach for new developments, but people who have already encroached on city-owned land shouldn’t be forced to remove it.

“To start knocking on 15-20 per cent of the houses in the City of White Rock and say we’re going to give you a massive bill, you need to move your stuff, move your bushes, move your trees. I think it’s crazy. I think it’s absolutely nuts,” Trevelyan said.

Trevelyan also expressed concern with the city sending a bill to residents who live on a fixed income.

However, Trevelyan told PAN Wednesday, “egregious” instances of encroachments should be looked at on a case-by-case basis.

Mayor Darryl Walker told council the city has to “lay down the line in the sand” and clearly indicate to the community that there will be no more encroaching on city property.

“If more is found out, it will be at the cost of the homeowners to remove it,” Walker said.

The day after the meeting, Chesney told PAN he had a “gut feeling” that one or two councillors voted in favour of the recommendation for political interests.

“Nobody articulated it. I think a few of the council members were afraid (this would) come back as a negative at the polls,” Chesney said. “I think we’re talking about less than one per cent of residents in White Rock that are guilty of this, but the people that are very guilty of it, I think should be brought into line and brought into line immediately.”

The staff report, titled ‘Preserving Road Right of Ways for a Sustainable City’ was created to address “what is increasingly referred to as a ‘Climate Emergency.’”

Compiled by engineering director Jim Gordon, the report is a framework of small steps that the city could take, over a number of years, to make the city more pedestrian-friendly, thus decreasing the number of vehicles on the road.

Gordon told council that 20 to 25 per cent of boulevards in White Rock have encroachments on them.

“What we’re suggesting is that we at least take small steps moving forward, so when there is redevelopment we take that chance to return the right of way to the city. If we see somebody put something new on the right-of-way, we’ll try to nip it right in the bud,” Gordon told council.

“In a 10- to 20-year plan, this will leave us in a good position.”

 

In a report to City of White Rock councillors, staff provided a number of examples of property owners that built encroachments on city property. (City of White Rock image)

In a report to City of White Rock councillors, staff provided a number of examples of property owners that built encroachments on city property. (City of White Rock image)

In a report to City of White Rock councillors, staff provided a number of examples of property owners that built encroachments on city property. (City of White Rock image)

In a report to City of White Rock councillors, staff provided a number of examples of property owners that built encroachments on city property. (City of White Rock image)

Just Posted

A sign warning of a pack of coyotes hangs near 2660 Croydon Dr. (Aaron Hinks photo)
South Surrey woman sounds alarm after encounter with pack of coyotes

Susan Martin said three full-grown coyotes were lurking around her home

TEASER PHOTO ONLY
Surrey RCMP looking for missing boy, age 13

Steven Vail was last seen at 8 a.m. after arriving at Frank Hurt Secondary but did not show up for his 8:30 a.m. class.

A student arrives at school as teachers dressed in red participate in a solidarity march to raise awareness about cases of COVID-19 at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. A number of schools in the Fraser Health region, including Woodward Hill, have reported cases of the B.1.7.7 COVID-19 variant first detected in the U.K. (File photo: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
COVID-19 cases at Surrey school district drop ‘dramatically’

There were 19 notifications sent out in the first 9 days of June, compared to in all of 245 in May

teaser photo only.
Surrey ‘POP!’ series promises ‘Performances Outdoors in Parks’ this summer

Ticketed concerts, theatre shows and other events start July 9

1,001 Steps – along with Christopherson Steps – was closed by the City of Surrey last spring in an attempt to halt the spread of COVID-19. They are set to reopen this week, as a note on a city sign attests (inset). (File photo/Contributed photo)
South Surrey’s beach-access stairs set to reopen

Christopherson Steps, 1,001 Steps have been closed since April 2020 due to COVID-19 pandemic

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

Annamie Paul, leader of the Green Party of Canada, speaks at a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on June 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Green Leader Annamie Paul facing no-confidence motion from party brass

move follows months of internal strife and the defection of MP Jenica Atwin to the Liberals

Tulips bloom in front of the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa, Thursday, May 10, 2018. Day two of a full week of scheduled hearings will be heard in Federal Court today on a case involving Indigenous children unnecessarily taken into foster care by what all parties call Canada’s “broken child welfare system.” THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
AFN slams Ottawa for ‘heartless’ legal challenge of First Nations child compensation

2019 decision awarded $40,000 to each Indigenous child removed before 2006

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 34-year-old man was arrested Monday after Transit Police found him riding a SkyTrain with a shotgun in the front of his sweatpants. (Transit Police)
SkyTrain passenger arrested, charged for concealing shotgun in his sweatpants

Codty-James Gray, 34, was found with ammunition, brass knuckles and knives

Ivy was thrown out of a moving vehicle in Kelowna. Her tail was severely injured and will be amputated. (BC SPCA)
Kitten thrown from moving vehicle, needs help: Kelowna SPCA

The seven-week-old kitten had severe tail and femur injuries

A health-care worker holds up a sign signalling she needs more COVID-19 vaccines at the ‘hockey hub’ mass vaccination facility at the CAA Centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Brampton, Ont., on Friday, June 4, 2021. This NHL-sized hockey rink is one of CanadaÕs largest vaccination centres. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
‘Vaxxed to the max’: Feds launch Ask an Expert campaign to encourage COVID shots

Survey shows that confidence in vaccines has risen this spring

Port Alberni court house (Alberni Valley News)
Inquest set into 2016 death of B.C. teen after a day spent in police custody

18-year-old Jocelyn George died of heart failure in hospital after spending time in jail cell

Children’s shoes and flowers are shown after being placed outside the Ontario legislature in Toronto on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Ontario commits $10 million to investigate burial sites at residential schools

Truth and Reconciliation Commission identified 12 locations of unmarked burial sites in Ontario

Most Read