'Uninhabitable' Richmond property could face demolition order from city

The city has received complaints about the property for the past decade

City council will decide whether a deteriorated farm property in south Richmond, littered with abandoned boats, vehicles and appliances, should be declared a nuisance and the house and outbuildings demolished.

According to the city, the vacant house, along with sheds, outbuildings and an “unsightly yard” — which have been the subject of complaints for the past decade — are offensive to the community and “interfere with the public’s reasonable use of the neighbourhood.”

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A special council meeting will be held on Monday to deal with the problematic property. If council issues the demolition order, the owners will have 60 days to comply or the city will destroy the structures at the owners’ expense.

The 4.1 hectare Agricultural Land Reserve property, located at 12620 No. 3 Road north of Finn Road, contains several sheds and outbuildings plus a three-storey house, which has been vacant since at least 2011, according to a city report.

12620 No. 3 Road
Abandoned vehicles and scrap wood and lumber are just some of the items city bylaws officers found on the property. - City of Richmond

The “uninhabitable” house is infested with rats and squirrels and has visible mould and several broken windows, according to the report. A recent windstorm felled a tree, which now rests against the front of the house.

The residential area, contained to the area surrounding the house, is littered with abandoned boats, furniture, trailers, cars and tires, appliances and scrap wood and lumber, plus an abandoned in-ground pool. The sheds and outbuildings, meanwhile, are filled with various “discarded and disassembled materials.”

The rest of the property is made up of agricultural land and is actively farmed by the owners.  

The latest complaint about the property came in June of this year, noting the abandoned vehicles, pool, broken windows and overgrown blackberry bushes. 

Bylaws officers then visited the property, where they confirmed its deteriorated condition, and ordered the owners — Michael George and Verna Marie Fairhurst — to clean up the site no later than Aug. 23.

The Fairhursts list the No. 3 Road address as their primary residence, but said they only live there part-time, according to city documents.

The order, based on the city’s unsightly bylaw, instructed the Fairhursts to remove, for example, the overgrown bushes, the derelict vehicles, tires, car parts, plastic containers, appliances, a shopping cart and other non-farm equipment and items.

While the report notes the owners made some effort to clean up the property, and were even given an extension, city inspections in August and October determined the site hasn’t been cleaned up and is still not in compliance with the unsightly bylaw.

Michael Fairhurst appealed the city’s crackdown, saying the farm is in the “process of renewal.” He claimed garbage had been dumped on the property by the person who complained in June.

In their appeal of the cleanup order, the Fairhursts told the city the farm was being preserved and winterized, and they would “never be able to meet the city’s expectations and have the site cleaned up to the point that it complies with the city’s unsightly bylaw.”

“In consideration of the conditions of the site and Mr. Fairhurst’s claims that he won’t be able to meet the city’s (cleaning) expectations, it is recommended that the appeal is denied and the order upheld,” reads the city’s report.

The city has notified the Fairhursts of the motion to declare their property a nuisance, should they wish to address council.

This isn't the first time that council has made such orders. In May of this year, structures at 10280 Springmont Drive — near the West Dyke Trail and south of Williams Road — and at 10140 and 10160 Cornerbrooke Crescent — near Railway Avenue and Williams Road — were declared nuisance structures and ordered to be demolished. 

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