This picture shows the backyard of 982 Tattersall Drive. The owners of the house said Wednesday that they plan to restore the house and rent it out.

Saanich asked to track derelict homes

982 Tattersall Drive could be so much more.

Its large backyard could host friends enjoying backyard barbecues or gaggles of children celebrating a birthday. Its location near Uptown Shopping Centre makes it an ideal location for individuals, who want to curb their car use. Swan Lake Nature Centre and the Lochside Regional Trail are mere minutes away. The neighbourhood around the home appears clean, even rich in character.

But for the last three years, 982 Tattersall Drive has been an increasingly dilapidated collage of crumbling facades, boarded-up windows framed by grey walls and overgrown weeds, housing nothing more than packs of rats and attracting deer. A protruding pile of wood and corrugated roofing sheets form a pyre in the backyard.

In a region craving housing, 982 Tattersall Drive is a waste, an affront.

It is also Ian Gillespie’s neighbouring property and he would like nothing more than to see the house demolished, even after learning that the owners of the property are planning to restore the house.

Dylan Huang, who identified himself as part-owner, said Wednesday morning that his family plans to restore the house over the new few months.

“I hope pretty soon it will be back in the rental market,” he said Wednesday morning while standing next to a pickup truck parked outside the residence. Huang and family members are working to clean up the house to make it livable again. While it will be a slow process, Huang said the house will not come down.

While his family had initially planned to tear it down, a family event forced a change of mind, he said.

Gillespie is not convinced. “It needs to be demolished,” he said. He also questioned whether such promises can be trusted in light of past actions.

Over the last three years, he has aired his concerns to the Saanich Fire Department, Saanich Police, as well as Saanich’s bylaw enforcement and chief administrative officer.

On Monday though, he spoke directly to council during its monthly open forum.

“Clearly, any of you would be very concerned about living next to a property in this condition,” he said. “Our concern has been particularly great during the hot and dry summer months where overgrown vegetation creates a ‘tinder box’,” said Gillespie, who has lived on Tattersall for almost two decades. “Even a promptly reported fire would likely destroy our home or damage it beyond repair, and risk others nearby.”

The district, he said, should develop a registry of derelict and abandoned houses. Such a registry would include among other information contact addresses for property owners, dates of last known occupancy, and any specific hazards associated with those properties, he said.

The registry would be accessible to various municipal officers, who in turn could initiate a registry entry, likely in response to a complaint or because of routine investigations. “Such an initiative would be entirely administrative and not require any bylaw change,” he said.

Mayor Richard Atwell told Gillespie that he would look into the property.

Questions around abandoned and derelict homes have gained some interest in recent weeks. Residents on Davida Avenue in the Gorge-Tillicum neighbourhood of Saanich have been frustrated with the state of the duplex at 374 and 376 Davida Avenue, a location familiar to police.

Twenty-four hours after his appearance before council Gillespie stands in his own backyard and points to various features of 982 Tattersall Drive. His words reveal a deep familiarity that sometimes drift into frustration.

“There is no way a house should be in this condition for so long,” he said.


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