Laura Gillanders is sick and tired of empty homes like this one in her once vibrant Richmond neighbourhood. (Google Maps)

Richmond woman ‘sick’ of empty homes

Laura Gillanders says the empty home on her street illustrates the larger housing crisis

Laura Gillanders started tidying up the outside of a home down the street from her in Richmond’s Seafair neighbourhood as a neighbourly act of good will.

“It was sold, someone purchased it, built a new mansion on the lot,” Gillanders said. “For the first three year, I didn’t really mind. But it’s been three more years, and I got fed up with it.”

So she sent out her annoyance to the world via Twitter.

“Hey, owners of empty house for 6 years now. I clean up newspapers from all over your lawn, I bring in your green bin that the gardeners leave on the curb,” her tweet read. “I’m tired of being neighbourly RENT OUT YOUR HOUSE!”

Gillanders said the mansion is symptomatic of a much bigger issue.

“We are in a housing crisis and there are in empty homes. Children have to be raised in a condo and a house just sits empty. Families should be able to live here.”

A family used to live in a previous smaller house on the lot, she said, with kids who attended school and parents who were active participants in their city.

Now, her children’s school, Alfred B. Dixon Elementary, is on the school district’s closure list because of declining overall district enrolment.

“We’ve seen sports associations have to merge because there aren’t enough kids,” Gillanders said. “Hockey, soccer, lacrosse…”

Some residents have proposed a tax on empty homes, similar to the one Vancouver brought in last year, but she isn’t sure if that’s the right solution.

“An empty homes tax is a good idea, but there’s a lot of issues on how it’s set up,” she said. “I think at the municipal level, there can be lots of things that can be done.”

City spokesman Ted Townsend could not arrange for an interview with a city councillor, but said in an email to Black Press Media that there’s been no direction from council at this time to consider an empty home tax.

When the issue has been brought up in the past, Townsend said, most councillors were unconvinced it was necessary or that a tax would be “fair or effective.”

He said he could not provide any firm numbers on empty homes in Richmond, but estimates they “represent a small percentage.”

Gillanders hopes for a new group on council after the October civic election. “I don’t think our current city council has the political will to do anything creative.”

If it were up to her, she said she’d prefer incentives for people to rent out their homes, to shrink Richmond’s lot size, or to allow for coach homes and laneway houses – though she acknowledges both residents and council have resisted that idea.

“A lot of people don’t want the density because they want the idyllic large lots for their big family house,” she said.

“I don’t know how to get around that, but we’ve got to think of more creative ways…. The reality is that they just sit empty.”


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Assaults up, collisions down, say Delta police

DPD third quarter stats show fewer traffic accidents than last year, but more ‘persons offences’

Surrey School District says it needs 7 new schools in next decade

Surrey council endorsed the district’s 2019-20 capital plan on Monday, Nov. 19

Surrey council approves free two-hour parking at city hall, around hospital

Although council gave its blessing to offer the free parking Monday (Nov. 19), it was already made free last week

Surrey Fire Service to provide non-emergency dispatch services for Port Moody

It’s said the move will bring in more than $9,000 a year for the City of Surrey

Threatened frog re-discovered in Delta Nature Reserve

The Burns Bog Conservation Society is asking residents to report sightings of the red-legged frog

White Rock pier light show

Dancing lights highlighted off the water front

Laine scores 3 as Jets double Canucks 6-3

Injury-riddled Vancouver side drops sixth in a row

Deportation averted for Putin critic who feared return to Russia

Elena Musikhina, a vocal critic of the Kremlin, has been granted a two-year visitor’s permit in Canada

B.C. to allow Uber-style ride hailing services to operate in late 2019

Fee will be applied to fund options for disabled people

Auditor general takes aim at Liberals’ fighter-jet plan

Suditor general Michael Ferguson is about to release a new report on Canada’s attempts to buy new fighter jets

B.C. couple converts ambulance into a traveling home

The Revelstoke couple plan on touring B.C. ski hills then driving to Mexico

Cyclist defecates, throws own poop at car following B.C. crash

Man defecates in the street before throwing it at a driver locked in her vehicle

11 years sought for Burnaby man who killed girlfriend with hammer, burned her body

Manslaughter sentencing hearing started Monday in Chilliwack for Ryan Armstrong

Jamie Koe, other curlers kicked out of bonspiel for being too drunk

‘You don’t kick around other players’ bags, it’s disrespectful and we expect better of our players’

Most Read