Laura Gillanders is sick and tired of empty homes like this one in her once vibrant Richmond neighbourhood. (Google Maps)

Richmond woman ‘sick’ of empty homes

Laura Gillanders says the empty home on her street illustrates the larger housing crisis

Laura Gillanders started tidying up the outside of a home down the street from her in Richmond’s Seafair neighbourhood as a neighbourly act of good will.

“It was sold, someone purchased it, built a new mansion on the lot,” Gillanders said. “For the first three year, I didn’t really mind. But it’s been three more years, and I got fed up with it.”

So she sent out her annoyance to the world via Twitter.

“Hey, owners of empty house for 6 years now. I clean up newspapers from all over your lawn, I bring in your green bin that the gardeners leave on the curb,” her tweet read. “I’m tired of being neighbourly RENT OUT YOUR HOUSE!”

Gillanders said the mansion is symptomatic of a much bigger issue.

“We are in a housing crisis and there are in empty homes. Children have to be raised in a condo and a house just sits empty. Families should be able to live here.”

A family used to live in a previous smaller house on the lot, she said, with kids who attended school and parents who were active participants in their city.

Now, her children’s school, Alfred B. Dixon Elementary, is on the school district’s closure list because of declining overall district enrolment.

“We’ve seen sports associations have to merge because there aren’t enough kids,” Gillanders said. “Hockey, soccer, lacrosse…”

Some residents have proposed a tax on empty homes, similar to the one Vancouver brought in last year, but she isn’t sure if that’s the right solution.

“An empty homes tax is a good idea, but there’s a lot of issues on how it’s set up,” she said. “I think at the municipal level, there can be lots of things that can be done.”

City spokesman Ted Townsend could not arrange for an interview with a city councillor, but said in an email to Black Press Media that there’s been no direction from council at this time to consider an empty home tax.

When the issue has been brought up in the past, Townsend said, most councillors were unconvinced it was necessary or that a tax would be “fair or effective.”

He said he could not provide any firm numbers on empty homes in Richmond, but estimates they “represent a small percentage.”

Gillanders hopes for a new group on council after the October civic election. “I don’t think our current city council has the political will to do anything creative.”

If it were up to her, she said she’d prefer incentives for people to rent out their homes, to shrink Richmond’s lot size, or to allow for coach homes and laneway houses – though she acknowledges both residents and council have resisted that idea.

“A lot of people don’t want the density because they want the idyllic large lots for their big family house,” she said.

“I don’t know how to get around that, but we’ve got to think of more creative ways…. The reality is that they just sit empty.”


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Laidlaw racer nets first place in B.C. among A-Class mud racers

Cody Leach has poured his energy and his hard-earned dollars into the sport he loves

A look inside Hope’s 20-bed emergency shelter, just over a month since it opened

Manager Sharon Holburn and Gerry Dyble, executive director of HATS, answer questions about the shelter and homelessness in Hope

Thriller feature film shot entirely in Hope in 2016 released online

Sweet Virginia includes scenes at the Skagit Motor Inn, Othello Tunnels and Hope Secondary

Highest earning staff at Fraser-Cascade School District made public

Also board looks into seat belts on school buses, Marv Cope gets road in his memory

Oscar-winning producer J. Miles Dale on filming horror-thriller in Hope

In an exclusive interview, Dale explains why the town plays a large role in Antlers

Six students arrested, charged in sex assault probe at Toronto all-boys school

The school’s principal, Greg Reeves, described the video of the alleged sexual assault as ‘horrific’

Police looking into two more incidents at private Toronto all-boys’ school

Police and the school have said two of the prior incidents involved an alleged sexual assault

5 to start your day

Body found in Maple Ridge ID’ed as Hells Angel, Japanese ‘rising sun’ flag gone from Langley classroom and more

Bovine tuberculosis found in cow on southern B.C. farm

CFIA said the disease was found during slaughter and they are investigating

Air force getting more planes but has no one to fly them, auditor warns

The report follows several years of criticism over the Trudeau government’s decision not to launch an immediate competition to replace the CF-18s.

B.C.’s Esi Edugyan wins $100K Giller prize for Washington Black

Edugyan won her first Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2011 for Half-Blood Blues

Bolder action needed to reduce child poverty: Campaign 2000 report card

The report calls for the federal government to provide more funding to the provinces, territories and Indigenous communities to expand affordable, quality child care.

Judge bars US from enforcing Trump asylum ban

Protesters accused the migrants of being messy, ungrateful and a danger to Tijuana; complained about how the caravan forced its way into Mexico, calling it an “invasion.”

Ottawa Redblacks defensive back Jonathan Rose suspended for Grey Cup

Rose was flagged for unnecessary roughness and ejected for contacting an official with 37 seconds left in the first half following a sideline melee after a Tiger-Cats reception.

Most Read