A Cloverdale woman is speaking out after an illegal suite was built onto a house in her neighbourhood.
The woman is concerned for the safety of the new tenants and those in the neighbourhood. She’s speaking out now to raise awareness and to advocate for change.
“Work started eight days after the new owners got the keys,” said Parmjit (last name withheld upon request). “A stop-work order was then issued, but the work just continued. My concern is that there are now four suites running on the same electrical panel.”
Parmjit called the city and they confirmed no permit was issued and that city officials did not inspect the new addition.
“We don’t know if the work is up to code,” she added. “If it was legal, fine, but we don’t know that. We’re living next door to a dynamite stick. Anything can happen.”
Parmjit called the city several times.
”The city told me there’s nothing they can do.”
She said she’s very concerned with the city’s inaction both during the construction and after.
“I have made several phone calls to buildings and inspections,” she explained. “I asked a woman there what the point was of putting on a stop-work order and she told me it gives illegal builders 30 days to apply for a permit. But how do you apply for a permit when it’s already built?”
Parmjit said when the 30 days was up, she called the city again and told them over that period the work didn’t stop.
“The woman I talked to said, ‘There’s nothing we can do to help you. We’ve done our part.’ And she told me I had to call bylaw.”
Parmjit then called bylaw several times and while bylaw did show up a couple of times, the construction workers had spotters on the road and at the bus stop, so each time bylaw arrived everyone hid.
Parmjit claims after the stop-work order was issued, the majority of work was done late into the night and on weekends.
She added that the woman at buildings and inspections told her this type of thing was happening all over Surrey and there was nothing the city or residents could do about it.
But Parmjit said that’s unacceptable. She wants the city to get some teeth and enforce the stop-work orders. She also said if a suite or addition is added without permitting, it needs to come down.
“If they want to expand their house, go for it. But go through the proper channels,” she said. “Why does Builder A have to go through the proper channels, pay for permits, and get inspections done, when Builder B doesn’t have to and then puts tenants and neighbours lives are at risk?”
She said a renter doesn’t know if the building was illegally constructed or not.
“You put the tenants at risk and you put the neighbours at risk,” she said. “Everyone around here is wondering when this is going to go up in flames.”
She said the city needs to do things differently both during the process when a resident calls about illegal construction and a stop-work order is issued, and afterwards when a suite has been finished.
“Things need to change. The city needs to fine people for even starting non-permitted construction,” she said. “If the work continues after stop-work orders, then the city needs to sue the owners. This type of illegal construction won’t stop until there are greater deterrents.”
Both the City of Surrey and the owners of the house did not respond to interview requests by publication time.