Vandals return to evacuated Sechelt homes built on sinkholes, leaving owners heartbroken

Click to play video: 'Vandals target Sechelt Seawatch neighbourhood once again'
Vandals target Sechelt Seawatch neighbourhood once again
Just weeks after learning their properties have been assessed as basically worthless, vandals have targeted the abandoned homes of a Sunshine Coast development. Jill Bennett reports. – Jan 18, 2020

A condemned Sunshine Coast community that was meant to be a paradise continues to be a nightmare for the former residents being barred from returning.

The latest heartbreak is the return of vandals to homes in the Seawatch development of Sechelt, whose owners can only watch from afar.

“It’s heartbreaking,” Chris Moradian said from the Burnaby home where he and his wife have been staying since the evacuation last year. “It’s our life savings that are being destroyed, and people are allowed to do this.”

At least two homes have had rocks thrown through the windows and graffiti sprayed on the walls, which was discovered Friday.

Pictures supplied by the owners show shattered glass strewn across the floors of rooms that look out onto the ocean, where the Moradians and other families planned to spend their retirements.

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Damage seen inside a home in the condemned Seawatch community of Sechelt. Submitted
Damage seen inside a home in the condemned Seawatch community of Sechelt. Submitted
Damage seen inside a home in the condemned Seawatch community of Sechelt. Submitted

“We’re just wondering, what’s the next thing that’s going to happen?” homeowner Ed Pednaud said. “We sit on pins and needles just waiting for the next thing.”

The District of Sechelt issued a local state of emergency and evacuation order for the oceanside development last February over persistent and dangerous sinkholes, which began opening up the previous fall.

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Click to play video: 'Sechelt homeowners hit hard by plummeting assessments'
Sechelt homeowners hit hard by plummeting assessments

Homeowners were forced to pack up what they could and leave the once-valuable properties, which remain behind barricades to this day.

The homes were already targeted by vandals back in September, with thieves breaking in and sometimes squatting inside while vandalizing at least five properties.

No suspects were caught or connected to those incidents, but RCMP said they were taking security at the subdivision seriously.

But Moradian says those promises haven’t been followed up on.

“We were given assurances from the district, the mayor that they would monitor the area and prevent this from happening,” he said.

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“They told us they’d be providing security, making sure people didn’t enter, but people are just using the area like a park.”

Click to play video: 'Residents forced from homes in Sechelt victimized by squatters'
Residents forced from homes in Sechelt victimized by squatters

Pednaud said the district and RCMP also promised drones, but he “hasn’t seen a drone yet.”

“RCMP aren’t even allowed onsite unless there’s a risk to life,” he said.

“People are using the area for all sorts of things [despite the evacuation order], but we can’t use it for what is intended, which is our home. It’s very frustrating.”
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RCMP say they are aware of the latest break-ins and are investigating.

Questions about security in the area have been forwarded to the District of Sechelt, which has declined to comment citing pending legal action.

Nearly all the homeowners have named the district, the province, the contractor and others in separate civil suits.

The vandalism comes just weeks after the properties, which were once worth over $1 million, were assessed at just $2 — one each for the land and the home.

Click to play video: 'Residents of controversial Sechelt neighbourhood ordered out of homes'
Residents of controversial Sechelt neighbourhood ordered out of homes

The ongoing state of emergency, meanwhile, continued to be renewed after weekly assessments, with no word on when it might finally be lifted.

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As the lawsuits wind their way through the courts, the homeowners say all they can do is continue to watch and worry.

“We can’t even get someone inside to replace the windows,” Moradian said.

“It feels like being thrown on the ground and kicked all the time, and no one cares.”

With files from Jill Bennett

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