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

The ‘Upside Down’ is coming to Surrey with ‘One Man Stranger Things’ parody

Charles Ross one-man act based on first two seasons of hit Netflix show

Surrey councillor wants the policing transition process to ‘immediately stop’

Brenda Locke to make motion at Dec. 16 meeting to reconsider current plan

City of Surrey says pension benefits ‘guaranteed’ for police recruits

A National Police Federation representative says it may not be enough incentive

Surrey-area teens will have a ball at Christmas, thanks to collection effort

Realty company’s Bring on the Balls campaign now in its third year

Surrey groups receive funding for training support for people 55-plus

PICS getting $728K to help 120 people over two years

MAP: Christmas light displays in Surrey and beyond

Send us pictures of your National Lampoon-style lit-up homes, nativity scenes or North Pole playlands

Fans sing Canadian anthem after sound system breaks at BMW IBSF World Cup

The Canadians in attendance made sure their team and flag were honoured on the podium

VIDEO: Fire destroys Big White Ski Resort chalet

Social media eulogies peg the property, nicknamed “The Pharamacy,” as both loved and hated

Prince George RCMP use bait packages to catch porch pirates over the holidays

First-in-Canada program with Amazon looks to combat parcel theft

Man pleads guilty to second-degree murder in 2017 Stanley Park stabbing

Lubomir Kunik was found by a man out walking his dog on the beach late on Feb. 1, 2017

Vancouver homeless camp brings community, safety, home, says resident

Encampment in the city’s Downtown Eastside is one of many that have sprung up in B.C.

Nanaimo mechanical engineer creates thief tracking program

Nanaimo Thief Tracking lets users plot and share information about thefts online

Mayor wants B.C. to institutionalize severely mental ill people who are homeless

Those suffering from mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia, need specialized care, mayor says

Most Read