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Nanaimo designates site of homicide a nuisance property

RCMP Nanaimo detachment commander Supt. Lisa Fletcher said police have received 40 calls for service at the house since January 2021

A Nanaimo property has been deemed to be a nuisance by city council following complaints by fearful neighbours and police reports of extensive criminal activities.

Designating the house a nuisance means its owners will be charged for municipal services, including police calls.

The house at 52 Athletic St. has been boarded up since last month when the body of 40-year-old Trevor Stross, of no fixed address, was discovered by firefighters, who arrived after smoke was seen billowing out windows. RCMP said his death was a homicide.

Even with the house boarded up, people associated with the property have returned on a regular basis and are going through its contents, David Laberge, manager of bylaw services, told council last week.

“They are leaving provocative signs and the neighbours say in some respects they find it more fearful to be in the neighbourhood now that the house has been boarded up than when it was operating.”

The property first came to the attention of city hall in 2019, when neighbours complained about large amounts of garbage. It appeared to be a drug house, he said.

Municipal staff worked with the owners to get it cleaned up. Similar issues arose in 2021, Laberge said.

RCMP Nanaimo detachment commander Supt. Lisa Fletcher said in a letter to the city that police have received 40 calls for service at the house since January 2021.

Police have executed three search warrants on the property and seized illicit drugs.

The house was recently used during the commission of a serious assault and abduction with a firearm and was the scene of a violent homicide, Fletcher said.

There is “significant concern” for the safety of the public, she said.

A police report said the property was well known as a drug house. There have been repeated complaints about people selling drugs, using drugs in public, drug paraphernalia left outdoors, people coming and going at all hours, and in one case, someone chasing another person with a machete.

The one-storey house is jointly owned by three family members. Prior to the fire, the 1,000-square foot home with three bedrooms was assessed at $507,000.

Randolph Rauch, one of the owners, said a garbage pickup service will be providing an estimate to clean up the property.

His wife, Susan, said: “Unfortunately our daughter has been taken advantage of and had ­people move in there that were not really responsible, in fact not at all responsible.”

The insurance has not come through yet and their daughter has nowhere to live, she said.

“I understand that the neighbours are fed up and we are fed up, too.”

The plan is to sell as soon as possible, the owners said. The insurance company has not been able to say exactly when the house will be repaired but suggested it could be four months, she said.

cjwilson@timescolonist.com

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