Secondary suites continue to be a contentious issue in Surrey.

Make suite permits mandatory

Re: “20,000 suites, 1 permit application,” The Leader, March 23.

There are 20,000 secondary suites in Surrey yet only one permit application to legalize a suite.

Is the city slow or have they not quite understood that currently homeowners with secondary suites do not have to pay for anything and they are still making money off of their suites?

Now the city expects people to simply own up to having a suite and then pay for a permit to “legalize” that suite. Come on city council, stop thinking like politicians looking for more tax money and start thinking like a homeowner who has a suite.

The suites in question are currently “illegal” because they haven’t been inspected by the city, yet they are constructed in a safe manner because most homeowners will not put in a suite if it could be unsafe for their home. After all, if there is a fire or something, insurance would not cover the damage.

You want people to get their permits? Make them mandatory. Offer them for free, offer a free inspection (for current suites only, new ones must pay) and if there are serious issues then make the owners fix the issues.

Until it becomes mandatory to have a permit for suites, do not expect the residents of this city to offer to pay for their permits.

Roland van Kaauwen, Surrey

 

Bylaw is a PR move

The City of Surrey is once again proving that they are more concerned about perception than reality.

The new secondary suite bylaw was supposed to clean up the illegal secondary suites that are rampant in Surrey, but so far it has done nothing more than generate some positive PR for the mayor’s office.

The fact that only 46 letters have been sent in the three months since the bylaw passed (a stunning 15 letters per month or one letter every two days) just underlines the perception that this bylaw will never be enforced.

The city, through its short-sighted zoning policies, created the problems with secondary suites in numerous areas of the city and now is unwilling to clean-up the mess that it made.

It would take less than a couple of days to go through the recent developments in Clayton and find several hundred homes with multiple suites, suites with no off-street parking, or homes where the main, basement and coach home have all been rented out by an owner that doesn’t live in the house.

The city knows where the problem areas are but its unwillingness to do anything just underlines the fact that this was simply a PR move to show that they were being “tough” on an issue that resonated with a core group of Surrey voters with an election in the near future.

Until the city starts mailing out 46 letters a day instead of 46 letters overall, this bylaw will just be a PR move.

Mike Wellar, Surrey

 

Suites mean higher taxes

Hopefully Acting Mayor Barinder Rasode and Mayor Dianne Watts upon her return will force those with illegal suites to have them registered and inspected to make sure they pay their proper taxes like all other Surrey homeowners have to.

So far, it appears that all but one homeowner conveniently ignored the proposed action by our mayor and council.

What is hard to understand is that many new homes with more than one suite were inspected and passed for many years by our building inspectors.

As a builder, I have seen many homes that had secondary suite utility hooks-ups hidden, later to be exposed after inspection. Even the one-time required concrete raised sections in basements were removed to make room for one or more suites.

It is time for the City of Surrey to fine those who continue to ignore the now required secondary suite registration as is done in Delta and add it to their next taxes if not done so by year end.

Those with more than one suite should be charged the cost to have them removed by city workers when discovered.

Without a doubt, most of these homeowners also do not declare those revenues as an income on their annual tax returns.

It is time for homeowners to pay the proper taxes for their suites, including the many services their renters now enjoy for free. Hopefully Surrey taxpayers will continue to speak out to this injustice for which they have to pay higher taxes every year and force our mayor and council to take appropriate action against violators.

Illegal suites have resulted in a severe money shortage for education as Surrey has more portables as its population is growing faster than any other city in B.C.

It may be time for those families with children to pay an education tax per child as done when I went to school when my parents had to pay a weekly fee for our education and also had to pay for all books and supplies many now enjoy for free.

Pieter Spierenburg, Surrey

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