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Trespassers make life miserable for residents
For the first 27 years of its existence, Sperling Townhouses was just another Burnaby residential complex, located in the 6700-block of Kneale Place.
But in 1999, it also became a shortcut for people heading to the newly-opened Sperling SkyTrain station down the hill on Lougheed Highway.
Instead of walking up the hill to Broadway to connect properly with the sidewalk installed by city hall down Sperling, people cut through the complex and use the gate installed as the residents' access to the walkway.
In recent years, the problem has gotten worse, as more people have started using SkyTrain, said Harvey Martens, secretary for the complex's strata.
People use the complex's parking lot as their own personal park-and-ride, leaving their cars there for hours while they travel on SkyTrain, Martens said, or as a drop-off spot for transit users.
And there's been an increase in break-ins in the complex in the past year, with one home being broken into several times in one day, apparently by someone who made off with the stolen goods using SkyTrain, he noted.
Now the residents at the complex's 31 units are noticing "vagrants" have been hanging out there.
In one case, someone defecated on the steps of a walkway in the complex.
"They left their underwear for us, though," noted Susan Taylor, the complex's strata president.
When they attempted to put a lock on the gate in question, "it didn't even last 12 hours," said Taylor. "Somebody took a sledgehammer to it."
The chain-link fence separating the complex from the city walkway also currently sports a large hole someone cut through it.
Signs telling people not to trespass or threatening to tow vehicles are routinely ignored. When confronted by residents, some trespassers reply with verbal abuse or threatening behaviour.
Back in the spring, a Burnaby RCMP officer did an assessment of the complex and recommended changes to improve its security.
The strata is now considering upgrading and extending the fencing to keep trespassers out.
But the move will be a costly one for the owners in the complex, Taylor noted.
Martens added the strata is also seeking the assistance of Burnaby city hall and TransLink.
"We believe this is not something we should deal with all on our own."
Burnaby's deputy city manager Lambert Chu said a letter about the issue from Taylor has been referred to the community policing committee for discussion.
"The city would like to receive some input from the committee members before establishing a position on this matter," Chu said by email. "Enhanced signage and improved fence gate security would definitely help to deter unwanted traffic through the townhouse complex."