While Chad Abougoush puts the blame for his relocation plans directly on City Hall and its lack of action on the homeless situation outside his door, his plans to relocate are well over a year old.
Abougoush is the owner of Boyds Tire and Auto Service and leases the building on the corner of Water Street and Leon Avenue. One entrance, off Leon Avenue, is crowded on both sides by the growing homeless tent city on that street.
“The issue here is the accountability with the city,” Abougoush told iNFOnews.ca. “The lies they’ve been telling us. Their plan and this and that and on and on. They’ve been completely negligent, 100 per cent.”
Another factor in Abougoush’s decision to move is that his business was operating there under a temporary use permit for the last seven years because the land isn’t zoned to allow a garage. That temporary use permit has expired, Ryan Smith, the city’s community planning department manager, told iNFOnews.ca.
“The temporary use permit is a six-year one,” Smith said. “They overstayed their time there, which is why we’ve been encouraging them to find a new site.”
The temporary use permit, according to city documents, was issued for three years in 2013 and renewed in 2016 for another three years, running out July 12, 2019. It covers both the Boyds and adjoining Eco-Clean dry cleaning properties.
Abougoush said he has tried to find a way to rezone the property but couldn't.
About a year-and-a-half ago, Abougoush found a new location on Clement Avenue. It’s on an industrial site but his new shop hasn’t been built yet. It’s just to the east of the new Packers Corner housing project at the corner of Richter Street.
That all began well before the tent city formed outside his door, but he maintains that constant problems in the area are no small consideration.
He said he met with Mayor Colin Basran, city council, the RCMP and others at the RCMP building a couple of years ago asking that steps be taken to clean up Leon Avenue. Despite assurances that changes would be made, the situation has only gotten worse. Cornerstone, a couple of blocks away, was opened in the fall of 2017 as a temporary winter shelter. Not only is it still operating but it’s expected to stay indefinitely.
“If the city has this elaborate plan and they’re working on it as a top priority, why do they have things like Cornerstone that was a temporary relief for four months that was promised to be policed and brought in seamlessly with zero impact to local businesses?” Abougoush asked.
The current location, which also houses Eco-Clean dry cleaners (whose owner did not return phone calls) was sold in June 2018 for $2.9 million, roughly $400,000 over assessed value.
At least three other nearby properties in the 200 block of Leon Avenue – including the building that housed The Habitat — were bought in the spring and summer of 2018 by the same owner, Anthony Beyrouti, the owner of North Vancouver based Venue Kings Ticket Brokers.
The four properties were valued by B.C. Assessment at $6.4 million as of July 1, 2019. That’s an increase of $1.2 million from a year earlier. The value of the land increased by $2.2 million during that year while the value of the buildings fell by almost $500,000.
Beyrouti wouldn’t comment on future development plans but confirmed that street issues were front and centre for both his tenants.
“We would love (for) both Eco Clean and Boyds to renew their lease,” Beyrouti said in an email. “It is the intense work conditions they find themselves on a daily basis that are causing them both to leave. We get along great with both companies, they did everything they could to stay, it was simply not anything they could battle with anymore.”
Abougoush plans to stay open until he can relocate in the spring.
So, how soon might high rises start going up?
“As for the future of the property, we are not commenting on that at this point as it is currently up in the air,” Beyrouti wrote.
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