Problems multiplied

Editor:

Re: City of Surrey tackles secondary suites, May 31.

Editor:

Re: City of Surrey tackles secondary suites, May 31.

Surrey mayor and council want us to accept multiple suites in designated areas.

If the city is unwilling or unable to enforce a one-suite authorization, it stretches the imagination to think they can enforce regulations allowing multiple suites in designated areas. So, it will be open season for the law breakers. Law-abiding citizens, yet again, will pick up the tab.

It is estimated there are already over 4,000 multiple-suite homes, yet they are not allowed.

There are, by conservative estimates, 20,000 unauthorized single suites, and these homeowners are not paying taxes on these.

At a bargain rate of $240/year in taxes for these suites, a minimum of $7.2 million dollars of additional revenue could be generated.

But, hey, who’s counting?

Enforcement to retrieve this lost revenue would be a fraction of this financial gain, but this seems far too expensive for Surrey to even contemplate. As well, there is no effort to ensure these unauthorized suites are brought up to electrical, gas and plumbing codes through the authorization process. This puts people at unacceptable risk.

The city has stated more than once that they prefer negotiation versus litigation to bring these homeowners into line. For the lawbreakers, this is code for ‘do whatever you want because there will be no consequences.’ For those living outside Surrey, the take-home message is, ‘if you want to break the law without consequences, the City of Surrey welcomes you.’

We have been experiencing an example of the folly in the city’s thinking on this for some time now.

This goes up and above lost revenue. Our school children and their teachers are forced into unhealthy and inefficient portables due to overcrowding.

The cost of portables comes out of the school board’s operating budget, not the province’s capital budget for schools. Yet the finger of blame is pointed at the provincial government. But school capital expenditures are based on anticipated student numbers within catchment areas. These numbers are based on planning and zoning.

When the city turns a blind eye on unauthorized suites – single or multiple – this throws all the planning out the window and more students need to be accommodated up and above the planned capital expenditures for additional schools.

I’m calling on Surrey citizens to:

• absolutely oppose any move to multiple suites;

• insist the city enforce authorization of all existing unauthorized suites and ensure these meet all applicable building codes;

• insist the city be far more open and transparent and build the trust that is currently so lacking.

Steve Burke, Surrey

 

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