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South Surrey's Old Curio Shop knocked down

Crews work to knock down the Old Curio Shop in South Surrey Friday morning. - Nick Greenizan photo
Crews work to knock down the Old Curio Shop in South Surrey Friday morning.
— image credit: Nick Greenizan photo

The Old Curio Shop is no more.

On Thursday, demolition began on the longtime South Surrey antique and curiosity shop, at 1430 King George Blvd.

A demolition crew was on-site Friday morning, tearing down the building and clearing the lot of debris.

Much of the contents of the building – which was filled floor-to-ceiling with second-hand items – were still inside during the process, though a security guard at the property suggested family members of Barrie Cohen, the shop's late owner, had removed some valuables from the property prior to knock-down.

The contractors tearing down the building had been hired by property owners, according to City of Surrey bylaw and licensing manager Jas Rehal.

"We've been in discussions with the family (of Cohen) for the last month or so, and now it's got to this point," he said.

"The owners have hired a contractor to start the demolition process."

Since Cohen's death last May, the shop had become the site of what Rehal called "much nuisance activity" including a number of break-ins. The shop also became a preferred location for squatters.

Last July, the City of Surrey boarded up the property and had a fence erected, at the property owner's expense. City staff also advised the family that 24-hour security was needed. At that time, Rachel Cohen – Barrie's sister, in an email, accused the city of entering the property "without due process."

In June, the New York resident told Peace Arch News the property has been looted “practically on a daily basis” and that the family had followed every directive from the city.

“We’re so disturbed by everything that happened,” Cohen said. “We did exactly what we were told to do.”

Now, Rehal expects the problems to cease.

"This will be good. Once it's cleared out, I'm pretty sure all that nuisance activity on that property will be gone," he said.

Since 2009, the Curio Shop – which had been in business for decades on the Peninsula – had been the focus of both bylaw officers and emergency crews, as well as neighbours who'd grown tired of the unsightly property and complained to the city.

On numerous occasions, cleanup crews have been on-site to clear debris. In April 2012, Surrey firefighters and paramedics were called to the Old Curio Shop to help free a man who had become stuck in a staircase inside a residents on the north side of the property. No one was injured.

Due to the building's dilapidated state, Rehal said Friday he expected the tear-down effort would take some time. The on-site security guard said crews would be there until at least next week.

"It's an old building, it was built in the 1950s, so there are some safety concerns, things like that, when taking it down so it will take some time," Rehal said.

And though neighbours have often complained about the property, at least one passerby Friday morning was upset to see the building coming down.

"I've been coming here since I was five years old," he said, adding that he and his wife collect china, and had been weekly visitors to the Curio Shop before it closed after Cohen's death.

"There's so much stuff still in there. It's just a shame."

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