469 Park Avenue, Kelowna. (Amandalina Letterio/Capital News)

469 Park Avenue, Kelowna. (Amandalina Letterio/Capital News)

Neighbours of abandoned Kelowna house worry for safety

The unkept Park Avenue home owned by a Victoria woman is often used by people experiencing homelessness

Neighbours of an unkept Kelowna home in the south Pandosy area say they are fed up.

In 2016, Lara Poirier and her husband purchased their dream home on Park Avenue. But they didn’t realize they were living next to a nightmare — a house they estimate has been vacant since the ’80s.

“There’s squatters; there’s homeless people … They’re not in their right mind and they’re trying to get in, in really unsafe circumstances with roofs caving in and decks collapsing. Someone’s going to get hurt or killed for sure. It’s just getting worse by the day,” Poirier told the Capital News.

She said she finds used needles on her property and lit cigarettes thrown into dry grass. The house in question backs onto Poirier’s property where her four-year-old daughter plays.

Poirier is not the only frustrated neighbour. Neighbours of the surrounding homes have also called police and filed complaints multiple times. Poirier said one neighbour even had his home up for sale but couldn’t sell and the feedback was that no one wanted to live near the abandoned problem house.

The house is a heritage home and the historical society of Kelowna hopes to see it come back to life — but the owner lives in Victoria and rarely maintains the property.

The police have attended the home to clear it multiple times, but the squatters keep coming back. That leaves the City of Kelowna bylaw looking at ways to find a solution.

“We have almost 11 open files on this particular property,” said Kelowna city councillor Mohini Singh. “Right now we have an active investigation underway, we have spoken to the owner.”

Singh said there are two bylaws the homeowner is violating, the unsightly bylaw and the good neighbour bylaw.

“So we’ve asked her to clean up the mess and install a fence so that people can’t get in there. It’s incumbent on the homeowner to step up to the plate,” Singh added.

In a statement to the Capital News, the homeowner claimed she updated her phone number to bylaw but they never contacted her directly. Now that she is receiving direct phone calls and is in town, she plans on cleaning up the home.

“We’re just looking for proactive versus reactive. We want to see something happen before somebody gets hurt or killed,” said Poirier.

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