By Lyonel Doherty
Although no ghosts have been reported, the notorious 555 Earle Crescent is still haunting the neighbourhood in Oliver.
The latest in the long-running saga is a report of trespassers who recently entered the boarded-up house that was subject to arson last summer.
The house, which actually looks a bit ominous from the street, has a history of problems and shady goings-on (nothing to do with the trees).
Neighbours have accused former tenants of conducting illegal activity there relating to drugs and theft of property.
Police, firefighters and bylaw enforcement officers have been called to this house numerous times. In fact, local RCMP have attended the premises approximately 50 times since 2017.
The last time firefighters were called there was in July of 2019 when a suspected arsonist damaged much of the home’s interior. It was believed the fire was set by a former occupant.
The home was subsequently boarded up for safety reasons, but it was recently reported that the back doors were ripped off and unauthorized people were seen entering and leaving.
One neighbour reported on Oliver Loop that a man and a woman dressed in black were trespassing in yards, including hers, before rummaging around in the condemned house.
The homeowner is cautioning others to lock up their possessions. The police were informed of the incident.
Another neighbour commented that the house is a danger to the public, citing the existence of hypodermic needles and blood on the property.
“When are they going to tear the eyesore down?” she asked.
Nearby resident Michael Guthrie is asking the very same question, noting the house has apparently been approved for demolition. But it’s taking a long time.
“Somebody is going to get hurt at Earle and it’s going to be soon,” he said.
Guthrie is worried that a child will become injured on the property, or another fire will take out the whole neighbourhood this time.
Guthrie, who identifies himself as a concerned citizen, questions why nothing has been done about the house, which is still causing problems in the community.
“Maybe it’s time to talk about time frames (for demolition),” he said.
Oliver Mayor Martin Johansen noted that he’s very familiar with the property, adding that “staff are working diligently to bring closure to this file.”
He also said the Town’s new Safe Premises Bylaw will be helpful as staff work through the challenges at the home.
Randy Houle, Director of Development Services, confirmed that the plywood at the back of the house had been pried off by people likely using the property as a place of refuge.
Houle said the Town reached out to the property representative to re-secure the premises. The building inspector subsequently checked to confirm that the back entrance and windows were re-boarded.
Houle noted the Town has also been working with the representative to have the building demolished.
“We are hopeful that this will occur in the near future and alleviate the concerns.”
The Chronicle has learned that the Royal Bank is on title as a mortgage holder.