Abandoned house troubles Saanich neighbourhood

Davida Avenue residents call for district to tear down delapidated house

Davida Avenue is a double row of modest but neatly maintained homes running off Tillicum Road. Then there is the duplex at 374 and 376 Davida Ave.

Years of weather and neglect have chipped its concrete steps and stripped its walls of colour. Debris dots the exterior and a quick peak through the smashed front windows reveals stacked-up mattresses, fold-out couches and empty beer boxes.

Patrick Kennedy, who lives with his family across from the duplex, said it does not have to be so. It is time to tear it down and use the lot for some sort of an affordable housing project, he siad.

“There are people in a need of housing and it [the duplex] is just sitting there,” he said.

Kennedy still remembers a time when the duplex did not have the reputation it has now. When he and his family moved into their home across from the duplex, it was a non-descriptive rental. Several years later, in the early 2000s, things started to change for the worse.

A rotating cast of characters came and went. “It constantly changed,” he said. So did the police officers, including SWAT teams, on two occasions.

Rumours of criminal activity, including drug dealing and prostitution, soon started to make the rounds and have persisted while remaining unconfirmed. Saanich police certainly know the address well. Between 2013 and 2016, it responded to 66 calls – 37 alone in 2013.

“Most of these calls were noise complaints or complaints of suspicious activities,” said acting Sgt. Jereme Leslie. Requests for additional information about these cases — specifically about the high number of cases in 2013 — remain unanswered.

The District of Saanich has also had dealings with the property, which is currently empty.

Most recently, Saanich hired a third-party contractor to clean up the property after the owner had failed to clean it up in time.

“This cost, which amounted to approximately $2,000, was passed along to the property owner,” said Kelsie McLeod, a district spokesperson.

She stressed though that “as far as being vacant and in bad shape,” Saanich has “very few” properties like 374 and 376 Davida Ave. “As far as being unsightly, we have dealt with 76 complaints of unsightly premises so far this year,” she said.

Efforts to identify and reach the property owner remain ongoing.