B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver has ordered the closure of two controversial lodging houses in North Surrey, however, the owner told The Leader Wednesday he plans to appeal the rulings.
The two homes, one at 13901 Hansen Rd. and another at 11409 142 St., must be returned to single-family dwellings by Sept. 30, the court ordered.
It’s the ruling long waited for by several residents in the community, who say they are fearful of the many alleged drug users who occupy the homes. Each house has had in excess of 100 police visits.
After trying to remedy the situation for close to a year and a half, the City of Surrey took the matter to court.
Mohammed Izaz, who says he owns the home with his wife Shamima Bi – who is named in the court documents – said the couple plans to appeal the findings of the court because they didn’t have legal representation.
The lawyer handling the case for them was in hospital, Izaz said.
“The lawyer was in intensive care,” Izaz told The Leader. “We were not even told we were going to court on these days.”
He said he hasn’t read all the findings in the court documents, but he asserts the two houses provide shelter to two families apiece – well within Surrey bylaws.
He feels he’s being unfairly picked on by the city because of the service he provides.
“Because I just help the homeless people get the shelter,” Izaz said. “They don’t want the homeless people to live in homes, they just want them on the street.”
Nonetheless, the courts have ordered that Bi return the two “lodging houses” back to single-family dwellings, as required by Surrey’s building bylaw.
Some neighbours expressed skepticism as to whether the owner will comply with the court order. They say they’ll wait and see.
Meanwhile, they continue to live in fear and describe themselves as being prisoners in their own homes.
In the recent days, there have been brazen daylight robberies at several homes in the neighbourhood.
The city and residents have long been frustrated the situation is indirectly funded by the province, which sends the housing portion of the residents’ social assistance cheques directly to the homeowners.
Conditions in the homes are dangerous, nearby residents say.
In one house, power and cable have been fed into a garage where people are living, and people pitch tents on the lawn.
There are also padlocks on the outside of doors, making the houses a potential deadly fire trap, witnesses say.
The court ordered that the city may enter the Hansen Road property on Aug. 4 to remove the paddle locks.
Izaz said he will file for an appeal immediately and take the case to the highest court in the country if necessary.
“Even if I lose this appeal, I will go to Canada’s Supreme Court, the highest court. If not, then God will punish them,” Izaz said. “If human beings are not allowed to help human beings, then who is allowed to help?”