“Hallelujah!” That was Don Cottrell’s excited reaction first thing Monday morning when an excavator tore through one of four derelict homes that neighbour his condo.
Cottrell lives just steps from the corner of Cloverdale Avenue and Inverness Road where, for almost a decade, neighbours and council have been working to get the eyesores torn down.
“We’re thrilled to see them go,” Cottrell said.
The properties have been boarded up for more than a year, but had previously been problematic for police and bylaw officers attending periodically for squatters, trespassing and vandalism. Neighbours say crime and drug problems persisted for a couple years before the homes were vacated.
Coun. Dean Murdock said he can understand why area residents are glad to see the “poorly maintained, condemned, uninhabitable homes” gone.
“This is the end of a chapter that has been going on for a better part of a decade. It was a chapter where there was a considerable amount of frustration and consternation about the appearance of these houses,” he said.
Quadra-Cedar Hill Neighbourhood Association president Karen Dearborn said the change is welcome.
“It’s kind of like the first sign that the neighbourhood’s being transformed,” Dearborn said. “I had so many people ask me: ‘When are they going to come down? How do we hold Saanich’s feet to the fire to make sure they come down?’ There’s a lot of emotion in the neighbourhood surrounding these homes.”
In August, council set a deadline for the property owners, who are looking to build a new condo building on the corner, to have all the homes torn down by August.
Councillors at the time voiced their frustrations with how long the homes have been problematic for them.
“This has been a black cloud for council for quite some time,” said Coun. Vicki Sanders, who served as president of the community association from 2000 to 2005.
“I think we got the correct development here, rather than saying ‘we need something on that space and anything would do.’ I think that didn’t happen here,” said Coun. Paul Gerrard of The Rutledge complex. It will feature 42 units and a coffee shop.
“It will raise our spirits about the future of the corner, that’s for sure,” Cottrell said. “It’s going to be a much better gateway to the park, and a gateway to the whole community than what’s been there for years. It’s good news for everyone.”