British Columbia

City hall backlog delays demolition of graffiti-covered East Vancouver house

Renters moving out of the white house at 11 Kaslo St. may have been under the mistaken impression it was about to be demolished.

House at 11 Kaslo St. was covered in offensive graffiti over the weekend, apparently during a moving-out party

Former residents of 11 Kaslo St. in East Vancouver left behind offensive graffiti. The house is slated to be torn down at an undetermined future date. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Had things worked out, the white house at 11 Kaslo St. in East Vancouver would already be a pile of rubble and the offensive graffiti covering it no longer an eyesore.

Instead, the home still stands, a rude testament to over-exuberant tenants, city hall backlogs and the good intentions of owners who just want to gain a toehold in Vancouver's preposterous real estate market.

The graffiti appeared on the weekend, by all accounts the result of a roaring moving-out party held by renters who made 11 Kaslo St. their home for the past year. The spray-paint free-for-all was possibly sparked by a misunderstanding the house was about to be torn down.

As fate has it, the wrecking ball isn't anywhere close to swinging yet.

Brent May, one of four owners of the property, said the demolition permit has been paid for, but delays at the City of Vancouver means there's no telling when it will actually be issued.

"The city really has us by the short and curlies," he said. "They are the only thing standing in the way of us being able to move forward." 

May wants neighbours to know he's sorry for the mess and mad at the tenants.

"They were not given the go-ahead to go nuts on [the house]" he said. "They made some assumptions. I don't know if it was the tenants or their friends, but we definitely didn't expect them to destroy the place."

A photo posted to social media shows a skate ramp inside the house. (@RigHardDieFast/Reddit)

May, his wife and two friends bought the property in February 2020 with the intention of building a duplex to split between them. According to B.C. Assessment they paid $1.68 million.

The hope was they could start work on their new homes this month, and in the interim found tenants who agreed to a one-year fixed-term lease.

"We rented it to some nice young kids who like to skateboard. And we wanted them to enjoy the place," said May.

Ramps were built in the driveway and, according to photos on social media, inside the house as well. 

A neighbour told CBC the tenants were liked and brought a sense of energy to the block.

And police say they co-operated when they were asked to. 

Skateboard decks adorn the front yard of 11 Kaslo St. (Karin Larsen/CBC)

"Over the weekend, we had several calls for loud parties at the home," said Vancouver Police Department spokesperson Const. Tania Visintin.

"Officers did speak with the tenants, who were co-operative with police and agreed to end their party."

Backlogs at city hall

City officials admit there is a backlog in issuing permits and said it's due to COVID-19 forcing what used to be an in-person service into the digital realm.

"The volume of applications we receive has increased exponentially," said Jessie Adcock, general manager of development, buildings and licensing. 

"City permit staff were not equipped with the tools or systems required to manage this type of digital contact centre business model at the outset of the pandemic."

According to the city, it takes on average 14 weeks to process a demolition application. The one for 11 Kaslo St. was received on March 8. 

Along with the graffiti, renters left behind a giant shoe. (Karin Larsen/CBC)

That means the graffiti-covered house will be around for at least another seven weeks.

May said he's reached out to his former tenants asking for help painting over the graffiti, and a contractor is being hired to board up the broken windows and doors. 

On social media, some people are posting images of the house, wondering what happened. On Reddit, the conversation is mostly a lament for the loss of the "Punkest Skate Punk House Ever!"

"Been a few great punk houses over the years... mostly heading to demo as East Van gentrifies," reads one comment.

"It's awkward," said May. "Some people probably think it's offensive. Other people probably think it's cool, right? All I can say is sorry to the people who find it offensive."

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