(Grace Kennedy) Alan Franklin's apartment looks out over the abandoned properties in Cloverdale's downtown core.

Cloverdale’s distressed properties still a problem for neighbours

Bylaw officers did a clean up of the properties in August, but the issues haven't gone away

Demolition permits for seven Cloverdale properties are too slow in coming for neighbour Alan Franklin.

Franklin, 65, lives in an apartment building on 57A Avenue and 177B Street in Cloverdale. From his third-floor balcony, where he often works in the summer, he can see two of the seven distressed properties in the downtown core.

“From our perspective, living across the street, it’s like living in a dump,” he said.

The seven properties were recently the scene of what local RCMP called a “huge success story” for the town centre.

In August, bylaw officers boarded up four of the seven properties and evicted seven squatters. On one of the properties, bylaw officers removed several dump trucks worth of refuse.

Related: City cracks down on seven ‘distressed’ properties in downtown Cloverdale

But that effort isn’t enough for Franklin, and hasn’t stopped unsavoury activity from going on in the area.

“There’s a lot of stuff going on,” Franklin said, putting a slight stress on the word “stuff,” indicating that perhaps it was of a less than legal nature.

According to Surrey’s communtiy enforcement manager Martin Blais, there were issues with squatters on the properties as recently as the beginning of October, when a few people were stripping one of the houses of wire. RCMP and bylaw officers responded to that incident. Franklin noted that some of the boards covering the doors and windows on one of the houses had been removed, possibly indicating people were living in the house.

“The people in my building, they’re really upset too, because they’ve been there for a few years and they said it’s been going on for a couple of years,” Franklin said.

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Franklin only bought his apartment last October; he thought the property across the street was undergoing renovations.

“We thought okay, it’s going to be fixed in a month or so. I had no idea it’s been sitting here this long.”

In July 2017, all seven of the properties were bought by Canada Nanyang Investment Holdings Ltd., a numbered company which registered in May 2017. According to Blais, bylaw officials are “diligently working with the owners” to demolish the buildings and develop the land.

“We should have a resolution fairly shortly, because we contacted the owners. We’re on top of things,” Blais said.

“I know people feel it’s an eyesore, but we just need a little bit of time to get everything worked out and all the permits approved and dealt with. Then we should see a difference within that Cloverdale area.”

According to Surrey councillor and Cloverdale resident Bruce Hayne, the owner is in the process of applying for a demolition permit.

“I’ve been assured by our planning department that the minute that demolition application comes in, it will be issued immediately,” he said. That means there could be bulldozers on scene a few weeks after the application is approved.

“But if there are delays on the part of the owner, then it would take longer,” Hayne said, “in which case then we would look at other courses of action.”

Those other courses of action could include a demolition order, which is a much longer process, as it has to go through the courts.

Hayne said the owner has a development application into the city’s planning department already. Hayne hasn’t seen the application himself, but understands it is coming through the planning process, which can take several months as they work out the details before it goes to council.

“I get it, it’s frustrating for the residents when they see a property that’s obviously in transition, is going to get redeveloped, but then falls into disrepair in the meantime,” Hayne said.

Franklin agrees.

“If they said to us, ‘Alright, Alan great. We got the demolition permits. It’s going to be demolished next week. It’s going to be clean, we’re going to just have fields across the street.’ I’m as happy as can be,” he said, walking down 177B Street towards his apartment.

“If they say we’re going to leave it for the next year, and too bad for you, I’m not happy.”

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