Almost a dozen low-income tenants at a Surrey trailer park say their life has been “hell” since a demolition crew knocked their power out nearly three weeks ago.
Lillian Bailey, 88, has lived at the Beladean Motel & Trailer Park at 8205 King George Hwy for 22 years and says at one time it was a happy, well-kept place.
But she and the other tenants allege that over the last eight years the current and previous owner have rented the motel out to drug dealers, prostitutes and a theft ring. They claim power outages are common and repairs are frequently neglected.
“It’s just been a horror,” Bailey told Metro. “With this company, the lights go out, they stay out.”
Police were called to the motel hundreds of times because of fights, thefts, and other disturbances and as a result this summer the city deemed the building a nuisance.
The city ordered the owner, Suvash Chander, who also owns Surrey’s Punjab Cloth Warehouse, to demolish the building or face fines of up to $10,000.
He complied but on Sept. 14 the demolition crew knocked the power out to the trailer park, where 11 people are still living. There are conflicting reports as to whether the blackout was anticipated or accidental.
“This is the worst it’s ever been without power,” Bailey said. “I’ve lost some weight. I can’t get warm… I just haven’t got words to say what I really think out loud, but it’s just plain hell.”
Reached by phone on Tuesday, Chander said contractors were doing everything possible to restore power to the mobile homes.
“We buy generator and buy gas for them,” he said.
But tenants Doug Hennaberry, who asked that his real name be withheld out of concern for his safety, Bailey, and their neighbour Keith Hill all dispute that. They say they have had to pay hundreds of dollars out of pocket for generators, which grumble noisily all day.
Hill also alleged that the $500 or so in gas Chander’s representatives have dropped off intermittently has been nowhere near enough, and the residents have had to shell out another $2,000 themselves on fuel so they can stay warm.
Jas Rehal, the city’s manager of bylaw enforcement, says his officers are actively investigating and in constant contact with Chander, and that he could face penalties if the tenants’ grievances are not addressed.
In the meantime, Bailey says she wouldn’t wish her home as it is on her worst enemy.
“What is it called in India, the untouchables?” she said. “That’s it. That’s what they’ve brought us down to.”