On Sunday afternoon there was a demonstration in front of Surrey City Hall to protest city’s crackdown on secondary suites in Clayton Heights area particularly.
“What the city is doing is completely wrong and you can’t evict people because of parking complaints,” said homeowner and organizer Greg Garner. “Even just to say it sounds completely ridiculous. You get a parking complaint, you pay your ticket and you move on — you don’t get evicted afterward.”
The rally comes after several Surrey homeowners were told to shut down their illegal secondary suites this fall; the orders came as a result of what the city said were chronic complaints about the lack of parking in the area and other related issues.
Residents, however, say the city’s been misleading with their reasons for the crackdown after several homeowners asked to see what complaints had been filed on their individual properties and were given no results.
Garner has a basement suite and a detached coach house and said it’s unfair that the city would deem his coach house illegal but still collect the associated servicing fee until suddenly issuing him an order to shut it down.
“At the end of the day, you collected our money which legalized our suites,” said Garner. “The whole process doesn’t even make sense. You’ve legalized these suites, people are living in these suites, they’re happy living in these suites and want to continue living in these suites.”
The city charges a secondary suite servicing fee of $568.28 and up to $144 for garbage, recycling and organics collection for each registered suite. Water and sewer are based on consumption for metered customers, but those who are not metered pay another $332 for water and $580 for sewer each year.
In response, residents have launched an online petition to “stop the evictions” and had organized the rally at Surrey City Hall for Sunday afternoon. As of Sunday morning, a total of 2,707 people had signed the petition out of a required 5,000; meanwhile, up to 100 people attended the rally Sunday.
The city has previously said there were 400 complaints in recent years related to illegal suites in the Clayton Heights neighbourhood, and more than 7,600 parking complaints and violations.
Throughout Surrey, there are 2,332 properties with two registered suites, 57 with three registered suites, and six properties with four or more registered suites, according to information provided by the city to Garner.