To the editor;
Surrey Mayor and Council want us to accept multiple suites in designated areas. If the City is unwilling or unable to enforce a one suite authorization it stretches the imagination to think they can enforce regulations allowing multiple suites in designated areas. So it will be open season for the law breakers - law abiding citizens, yet again, will pick up the tab. It is estimated that there already over 4,000 multiple suite homes yet they are not allowed.
There are, by conservative estimates, 20,000 unauthorized single suites and these homeowners are not paying taxes on these. In fact Councillor Gill estimated the number to be in the 30,000 range. At a bargain rate of $240/year in taxes for these suites a minimum of $7.2 million dollars of additional revenue could be generated. But, hey who’s counting. Enforcement to retrieve this lost revenue would be a fraction of this financial gain but this seems far too expensive for Surrey to even contemplate. As well, there is no effort by the City to ensure these unauthorized suites are brought up to electrical, gas and plumbing codes through the authorization process. This puts people at unacceptable risk.
The City has stated more than once that they prefer negotiation versus litigation to bring these homeowners into line. For the lawbreakers this is code for - do whatever you want because there will be no consequences. And, for those living outside Surrey the take home message is, if you want to break the law without consequences, the City of Surrey welcomes you.
We have been experiencing an example of the folly in the City’s thinking on this for sometime now. This goes up and above lost revenue. Our school children and their teachers are forced into unhealthy and inefficient portables due to overcrowding. The cost of portables comes out of the school board’s operating budget not the Province’s capital budget for schools. Yet the finger of blame is pointed at the Provincial government. But school capital expenditures are based on anticipated student numbers within defined catchment areas. These numbers are based on planning and zoning. When the City turns a blind eye on unauthorized suites (single or multiple) this throws all the planning out the window and more students need to be accommodated up and above the planned capital expenditures for additional schools.
I’m calling on law abiding Surrey citizens to:
a) absolutely appose any move to multiple suites;
b) insist that the City of Surrey enforce authorization of all existing unauthorized suites and ensure these meet all applicable building codes;
c) insist that the City be far more open and transparent to the citizens of Surrey and build the trust that is currently so lacking.