Abbotsford News

Problem property cleaned up on Gladys Avenue

George Penner has spent the last year and a half trying to evict the tenants from his home on Gladys Avenue.

He gave them an eviction notice, but they wouldn’t leave, and Penner didn’t know what recourse he had.

In the meantime, they turned his two-acre property into a garbage dump filled with used needles and human waste, destroyed all the vehicles on the site, allowed squatters to set up camp, and trashed the inside of his home.

The property, with its large boat in the front yard, became the site of numerous complaints from neighbours and countless visits by police. A 42-year-old man was arrested at the home in July 2011, when police seized 12 firearms from the residence.

Last Friday, the problems appeared to be coming to an end.

Official notice was served in the presence of two Abbotsford Police officers, and the tenants were given 10 days to vacate the premises.

A crew from Steve’s Towing volunteered their time over three days to haul away the mountains of refuse on the property.

Penner, 75, was on site, relieved to finally see some action being taken.

“What rights does a landlord really have? There are none,” he said of his frustration that the situation took so long to resolve.

Penner bought the property 22 years ago and lived in it until December 2009 without any issues.

Over the years, he acquired several vehicles – including three boats, 10 cars and a trailer – that he stored in his backyard.

He then got a job as the resident manager of a storage facility on Townline Road, and this required him to live on site.

Penner had previously befriended a man in the area who was living in a tent and had nowhere else to go. Penner offered him cheap rent – $400 a month – in exchange for keeping an eye on his property and the items in his backyard.

When it became apparent that the man was doing exactly the opposite, and failed to pay rent after the first year, Penner told him he had to leave.

Penner said the man always had an excuse for why he couldn’t move out.

Last week, the City of Abbotsford told Penner he must clean up the property, even if the tenants weren’t leaving.

He approached Steve Larabie of Steve’s Towing to move some of the vehicles. When Larabie stepped on to the property, he was aghast at what he saw, and offered to clean up the site free of charge.

He and a crew of eight began the massive task – a job valued at about $25,000 – on Thursday, hauling away three large boats, nine cars, a trailer and raking the yard of the heaps of debris. The boat on the front lawn was moved to the back.

“It was just disgusting … drug paraphernalia, buckets and buckets of human waste,” Larabie said.

Choiceland Property Management Inc. also stepped in free of charge, serving the official notice to the tenants. The company will now oversee the renovation of the home, and ensure that future tenants are properly screened.

Penner said he will be relieved to put the matter behind him and provide better, safer surroundings for his neighbours.


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