Amid all of the debris and half-demolished manufactured homes, gardens continue to grow and thrive. Meanwhile, several tenants, many who are seniors, have been displaced and yet to find a new home.
Dozens of Surrey residents have been forced to relocate from Green Tree Estates in Fleetwood after the previous council gave the developer, Dawson + Sawyer, the OK to build 137 townhouses in place of their homes at 15820 Fraser Hwy.
Since then, the current council has also approved the developer’s plans for an additional 426 apartments on the site.
Dawson + Sawyer told council in 2018 that residents were given several options, and all chose “Option 1” which was to enter into a contract to sell their home based on an independent appraisal, in addition to a $20,000 “bonus” and other requirements. Some took an additional $10,000 to leave by March 13.
However, eight or nine residents still remain on the property and have until the end of November to find a new home, most likely out of the area.
Until recently, the remaining residents have had to live among the debris and garbage of the dozens of homes that have been demolished.
“It’s depressing. We know it’s coming down, but we still live here,” said Richard Porta, who has lived at Green Tree Estates for almost nine years.
Porta said crews began knocking down some of the homes last fall, but they left a mess behind. Then around Christmas, he said, the mess was cleaned up.
About five weeks ago, Porta said, demolition began again.
“That’s what we’ve been living with for about five weeks now since they started that. They only came back in yesterday with an excavator and started knocking things down.”
On April 10, a bylaw officer with the city came to the site, said Kim Marosevich, the acting manager of public safety operations.
“Essentially, the property was in sort of a state of disrepair,” she said.
Marosevich said the vacant units that had been demolished “were simply demolished on the site” and the debris wasn’t removed, “which would be a sort of typical process in demolition.”
She said the bylaw officer on scene collected evidence and pictures and spoke with some of the remaining residents. Then the property owner was contacted and was given a 10-day timeline to clean up the site to “bring it back into compliance with our unsightly property bylaw.”
Marosevich said the property owner was willing to and work toward cleaning it up, and comply with the Surrey Fire Service’s orders “because obviously there’s some fire risk associated with that.”
“The intention is to increase the safety of the area for the residents, not to decrease it,” said Marosevich, adding that it still needs to be “habitable and livable” for the people.
Marosevich said the Dawson + Sawyer is alloed to continue the demolition but garbage and debris needs to be removed “immediately.”
The Now-Leader has reached out to Dawson + Sawyer for comment.
For sisters Sheryl Lyn and Susan Murray, the conditions have improved since the bylaw officer came in.
“Oh my God, they have snapped to it,” Susan said. “We’ve had the truck in here taking stuff away, the tractors come in and knock things down; just in the last day and a half.”
On a walk through the property, Susan pointed to piles of garbage, broken glass, discarded furniture, appliances left behind and plenty of other hazards.
Susan said she’s just asking for respect for the remaining residents. She said they have tried to tell the property owner about the mess and people allegedly coming onto the property and stealing from whatever’s left behind.
“It’s frustrating. It’s depressing walking around,” Susan said. “So like I say, have a little respect for the people that are left here. They don’t want to look at this.”
Alan Aurelio, who moved to Green Tree Estates about two years ago, said he knew it was “inevitable” that the property would be sold.
Aurelio said he moved in thinking he would have at least five years in this home, but about five months later, the property was sold.
While others plan on staying until the last day, Aurelio said he doesn’t “plan on staying that long,” but he knows he’ll have to move out of Surrey.
Aurelio said it’s a “really big jolt” for some of the residents who planned on spending the rest of their years at Green Tree Estates.
Robert Potter, 88, was one of those people who thought he would be “here for the end of my time.” Luckily, he said, his son lives in the area.
“Forty years ago, I said to him, ‘I’ll never come live with you,’ but I might have to change that.”
Sheryl Lyn said she and Susan will stay as long as they can until they have to go.
“You’re between a rock and a hard place. Yes, we’d like to go. Well, we can’t afford to go,” Sheryl Lyn said.
“But the bottom line is the people that are left here and do live here, do understand gentrification. It’s going to happen We need to get out. We get it. We’re not stupid. We may be seniors, but we’re not stupid.
“However, contractually, legally, we are here to December, does that mean you should be subjected to this?”