Despite a stop-work order being issued for an illegal suite in Cloverdale, one resident said the work continues.
It’s prompted Oliver McNeill to speak out.
“My concern is that it doesn’t fit in with the neighbourhood,” said McNeill, who lives next door. He also says the suite, built above an existing garage, doesn’t appear to be built to code and there are no permits. He’s also concerned the “monstrosity will devalue homes” in the area.
McNeill started calling and emailing Surrey’s contact lines for “Unauthorized or Unsafe Construction and Secondary Suites” on July 25, but received no response. It wasn’t until he emailed Councillor Linda Annis that he received a reply form the City.
“Councillor Annis shared your email with this department and asked us to contact you on the matter,” Sarah Salmond wrote back to McNeill. Salmond, an administrative coordinator in the Planning & Development Department, said she looked up the property in question on 64th Avenue and found no permit to build was issued.
“(I) can advise you that a Stop Work Order was posted on this property on Friday, July 31st 2020 for the unpermitted work,” Salmond wrote.
Salmond noted the homeowner will need to restore the property to its original state with a demolition permit, or “if they desire to keep the work, they will need to prepare a building permit application and submit it to the City for review.”
Salmond continued, “If the work is permitted by regulations on the property, it is possible that a building permit will be issued and that the work will be inspected by City Building Officials for safety and building code compliance. If the work is unpermitted due to regulations on the property, the only option will be for the homeowner to demolish the work.”
McNeill was satisfied with the response, but said the builder disregarded the stop-work order.
When the Cloverdale Reporter visited the construction site on 64the Avenue and 190th Street Aug. 5, work was continuing.
The contractor/owner was not on the site and three workers didn’t know where he was and didn’t have his contact details. The workers also said they were not aware of any stop-work order being issued for the property.
“How many complaints does the City get on illegal buildings (projects) and how many do they act on?” McNeill wondered.
Calls to Salmond about the stop-work order were not returned by press time.
McNeill said the builder had a backyard get together three weeks ago when he moved in.
“He poked his head over the fence and said he was the builder and that he builds houses in Surrey. He just finished building two and he was working on two more.”
According to McNeill, the builder said he wanted to put solar panels on the garage roof and that the roof trusses were not strong enough. The builder said he planned to remove the garage roof and replace the trusses with heavier ones that could take the weight of solar panels.
McNeill said the next day a large truck showed up with very large trusses.
“This isn’t a homeowner who wants to add an addition to his home that’s going to take two or three months to get done. This all happened in eight days. They went from an existing roof to a building that is ready for gyproc,” McNeill said. “It progressed so quickly.”
McNeill added that he’s not against development, he just feels that things need to be done with proper permitting and oversight.
“This is an eyesore,” he said. “If they’d have stuccoed it, or put a peaked roof on it, or made it fit in with the existing structure and neighbourhood, then I wouldn’t be complaining.”
He also said parking is an issue in the area and an illegal suite will just exacerbate an already bad situation.
“There is no parking on 64th, so where are they going to park? Parking in the alley is bad. Garbage trucks can’t get through on Fridays, so they banned parking in the alley on Fridays.”
As for other areas with illegal suites, Clayton Heights resident Mauro Hrellia—interviewed last week—told the Reporter via email that a lady in his neighbourhood recently came to him and said she was going to put in an illegal suite.
“I told her, ‘it’s illegal, you cannot do that,’ but she told me ‘all my neighbours have them and the City has done nothing.’ Well, she’s right.”
Hrelia said another suite was built right behind his house in 2017. He said he told bylaw inspection and they came by to look at the suite, but nothing was done.
“Was it dismantled? No. The City just does not care about us, the law abiding taxpayer.”
“If it can happen in my neighbourhood, it can happen in anyone’s neighbourhood.”
McNeill wondered how the City will, if ever, address the problem.
“I have lived in Surrey all my life and in this home for 27 years,” McNeill said. “All I want is for (the City of Surrey) to call me and assure me our neighbourhood concerns are being investigated and remedied.”