A delegation from Fanny Bay has appealed to regional district directors to find a solution to end a long list of problems associated with a property in the community south of Courtenay.
Recently, neighbours say the situation has worsened at 501 Holiday Rd. in terms of garbage, gunshots, drug dealing and out-of-control fires. One day, an individual from the property was screaming and banging on a door. Turns out the man was carrying two machetes.
The property is owned by local landlord Amandio Santos, whose various Comox Valley rental properties have repeatedly been called out by neighbours for illegal activities.
Holiday Road resident Jaime Shepherd says the Fanny Bay property in question, which she calls ‘The Lot,’ has been a problem for about 20 years.
“You may be asking, ‘Why now?'” she said at the Aug. 10 Electoral Area Services Committee meeting. “Because we’re fed up. Since June, we’ve seen a parade of tow trucks haul in scrap cars and trucks. Then the police recover a stolen truck from Port Hardy.”
Shepherd said the man with the machetes walked by her house to reach the doorstep of neighbour Paul Crawford.
“My door was wide open at the time,” she said, noting Fanny Bay is a 30-minute response from the Comox Valley RCMP detachment in Courtenay. “The ‘what ifs’ are terrifying. What if my kids were playing in the yard?”
Crawford says the property owner tends to turn a blind eye to the illegal activities.
“Nothing good ever happens at that property, and it’s getting worse,” he said. “Once, we used to walk up the road with our children with a picnic basket and fishing poles. Now I carry a club, a knife and bear spray, whatever I can to protect myself and my family. There’s something not quite right about these properties and the landlord who owns them. This crap has continued year after year. Something has to be done. There’s no halfway on this one. These properties have to be sold before somebody gets seriously hurt.”
Jaki Ayton said neighbours were concerned that a man named Darren might have been paying his social assistance housing allowance to live in a tent on the property.
“I can assure you that your experiences are being heard,” said Area B director Arzeena Hamir, who asked if the CVRD has a way of identifying nuisance properties.
CAO Russell Dyson said nuisance property provisions are more common within municipalities.
A July 22 neighbourhood meeting about the situation drew about 40 people, including members of the RCMP, the Fanny Bay Fire Department and Area A director Daniel Arbour.
“This is a systemic problem,” said Arbour, noting the frustrations of a person using the system to their advantage. “It is something that we need to think about very seriously, especially when it goes on for many, many years. We need a solution to this problem. It’s unacceptable.”
He notes the property owner has previously made comments that he was providing affordable housing for people in need.
“I’m not fooled by that,” Arbour said. “I believe the circumstances would suggest that this is somebody that takes advantage of people in need, and probably makes their cycle of troubles worse.”
Before Monday’s presentation began, EASC chair Edwin Grieve said details about specific complaints or investigations are confidential. He noted the complexity of bylaw enforcement, but said the CVRD is committed to fairness.
After the meeting, Santos was contacted by phone but was not interested in discussing the situation.
“It’s not my problem, nothing I can do about it,” Santos said. “That’s been taken care of.”