The City of Surrey has sharpened its teeth when it comes to illegal construction within city limits.
Council endorsed a corporate report from staff at Monday’s regular meeting that will, once all bylaw amendments are approved, drastically increase the city’s firepower when dealing with illegal builds.
Council has yet to approve the amendments, but asked staff to bring them forward in the future approval.
Coun. Laurie Guerra said this is “very timely” given the number of complaints council is receiving. “You know that if people are coming to councillors, it’s kind-of their last resort,” she said. “In my opinion these changes couldn’t have come fast enough.”
Coun. Allison Patton said she especially likes the part where multiple tickets can be issued for the same offence on separate days. “I think that will help with our teeth on the matter.”
Coun. Jack Hundial presented in July 2021 a notice of motion aimed at curbing illegal and unauthorized construction in Surrey, which he said “presents real dangers to life.” Council approved his motion in September and directed city staff to look at “enhanced enforcement, prosecution and public awareness” to tackle illegal and unauthorized construction here, with an eye to “mitigate loss of life, destruction of property” and ensure compliance with bylaws.
He said the problem has been around for many years but the enforcement “has been very light in our bylaws.”
As part of the changes, the city will double the current fine from $500 to $1,000 for infractions such as preventing an inspection, construction without a permit, occupancy without a permit, and ignoring a stop work order.