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How much farmland should be dug up?

Greg Middleton and Suzanne Fournier
The Province

Friday, May 31, 2002

Owners of homes built on property sold off in recent years by accused serial killer Robert Pickton and his family say they doubt their property will be excavated.

"It'll never happen," one woman said angrily.

Beginning Monday, police will intensify their search of the Pickton's current 4.4-hectare pig farm with the assistance of up to 50 forensic scientists.

But the families of 54 women missing from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside are continuing to push for the search to be widened to lands once owned by the Picktons that now contain housing, a mall, a school and a park.

for The Province
Housing and mall development on land (within light dotted line) previously belonging to Pickton family shown in 2002.
Blakeburn School and Park, built on Pickton land. Land formerly belonging to the Pickton family. The Pickton farm: Focus of the police search.

The families say it is "illogical" to assume that human remains will be confined just to the Pickton's remaining property since many of the women disappeared when the Pickton property was much larger.

"My daughter Marnie went missing in 1997, before all those houses were built, and I don't want the police, after finding human remains on the pig farm, to refuse to search the former Pickton land in an effort to find all our loved ones," said Rick Frey.

Nearby residents say the demolition of their homes would be expensive and might not yield any evidence.

for The Province
Aerial photo showing the Pickton pig farm in Port Coquitlam in 1996 with the surrounding area before it was developed.

"I think that's unacceptable unless they have proof, witnesses that something is buried in a specific area," said Wendy Cramb, a single mom who bought her townhouse in October.

Cramb, 33, lives in the newly finished Heritage Meadows complex -- 64 townhomes mostly occupied by young working couples with young families.

"It doesn't make sense to tear down our homes unless they know there are bodies buried here," she said.

Cramb said there has been talk among the residents that something like this might be raised.

Selling off the property to developers earned the Pickton siblings millions of dollars. Robert Pickton has been charged with the murder of seven of the missing women.

Nathan Waite, of Waite Air Photos, said RCMP have requested aerial photos of the pig farm area taken over the past decade.

Arlen Redekop, The Province
Pickton farm is sealed off from subdivision that victim's families want excavated.

Blakeburn Elementary School and a neighbouring park are built on former pig farm property, as well as a row of homes across the street from the Heritage Meadows complex.

Jim Maitland, Port Coquitlam deputy administrator, speculated that police may dig up Blakeburn park before disturbing homes.

"In the 27 years I've been with the city, we've never had to expropriate private land, so I don't know the legalities, or if the police could even expropriate under the Local Government Act," said Maitland.

"The police are excavating the pig farm, which is private land, but I don't know how they'd move to excavate the property and homes of innocent bystanders."

Residents say they've been just trying to get on with their lives since police swarmed in and took over the property owned by the two Pickton brothers and a sister who had moved away.

The police search of the property, and the horrors real and imagined that it contains, have not dampened the demand for homes on former Pickton land. "It's been a hot selling property," said realtor Jason Craik, who has sold 80 properties for ONI Corp.

. "A couple of people wanted out, but I just sold the last seven homes and for $20,000 more than other houses in the area."

Craik said the houses sold for $350,000 and he was confident that the townhomes, which sold for $265,000 before the murder investigation began, would now fetch at least $275,000.

gmiddleton@pacpress.southam.ca

sfournier@pacpress.southam.ca

 Copyright 2002 The Province

Courtesy of The Province
http://www.canada.com/vancouver/theprovince/

Forensic scientists will use aerial photos-May 30, 2002

 

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Updated: August 21, 2016