Ominous Letters, Peculiar Neighbors, and Menacing Threats

Ominous letters, peculiar neighbors, and menacing threats. A family moves into their dream countryside home, only to find nightmares at their doorstep.

“Watcher,” a suspenseful thriller series released on Netflix in 2022, unfolds the story of the Blanock family, who thought they were living in their dream home in the suburbs but unexpectedly get caught up in a living nightmare. A mysterious figure claiming to be the “Watcher” sends a chilling letter, marking the beginning of a series of strange events, gradually revealing the dark secrets within the community.

The tale is based on real events. In June 2014, the couple Derek and Maria purchased a 1905 Dutch Colonial Revival house in Westfield, New Jersey, for $1.3 million. It was their dream home, but they eventually sold it at a $500,000 loss due to unsettling letters. Some threatened them directly, while others disturbingly mentioned their children. These letters were sent by someone calling themselves “The Watcher.”

The first letter reads, “My grandfather watched the house in the 1920s, my father in the 1960s. Now it’s my turn. Do you know the history of this house? Do you know what’s inside the walls of 657 Boulevard? Why are you here? I will find out.”

Another letter mentions, “Young blood you have brought to me… Have you found all the secrets it holds? Will the young blood play in the basement, or are they too afraid to go down alone?”

As someone who has lived in Vancouver, Canada, for over 20 years and worked as a real estate broker for 14 years and a developer for 10 years, I’ve encountered various eccentric neighbors despite the majority being friendly. Some neighbors, often from the same household, engage in frivolous complaints to the city government, making baseless claims.

For instance:

  • Complaining about a gap in the fence during demolition, leading to their dog running out.
  • Fence color must match theirs, and it must be painted to their satisfaction before installation.
  • Complaints about construction lighting affecting their daughter’s room.
  • Drainage issues, alleging a risk of flooding their basement.

These tales illustrate the challenges faced by homeowners dealing with difficult neighbors, a phenomenon not unique to a particular location.

In another incident, a Chinese family in Port Coquitlam faced strong opposition from neighbors when seeking permission to alter a creek on their property. Despite federal approval and thorough planning, discriminatory remarks from neighbors were evident in their letters to the City, expressing concerns about a “foreign buyer” altering the natural landscape.

The individual spent 80,000 Canadian dollars to hire various experts to design and produce reports, arguments, and conduct meetings, as required by the government. They obtained approval from the federal Department of Oceans and Fisheries. However, during the municipal government approval process, they faced strong opposition from neighbors, leading to the project being abandoned. According to the city government’s minutes, the neighbors’ letters not only contained harsh language but also included many racially discriminatory remarks. Let’s “appreciate” some of these new contents:

  1. “I am writing this e-mail in regards to the request for the 10,000 square foot house planned for POCO. I am sure lots of residents are opposed to Mr. Owner’s proposition. How anybody can be so greedy is beyond my comprehension. Not only does a certain ethnic group already own half of Vancouver, but now this one person wants to move our CREEK as well.”
  2. “I read with trepidation that the Council will even consider allowing a mega house to be built requiring moving a natural stream to accommodate one man’s wishes. There is no way this should be allowed, and I am appalled that the Federal Ministry has okayed this. I’m sure a smaller home could be appreciated on that lot and leave the natural stream as it is to be enjoyed.”
  3. “I would like to ask the City of Port Coquitlam to review the plans for the redevelopment of the property at 1234 ABC Avenue. This is an overly zealous attempt to accommodate a 10,000 (plus) sized home in a well-established neighborhood of moderately sized family homes.”
  4. “I seem to be getting the runaround here as to why approval was given to a foreign buyer who wants to build a 10,000 sq ft Mega home and a 3,000 sq ft garage on this property located in Port Coquitlam, B.C. on ABC Ave. This is a salmon-bearing creek, also a source for food for wildlife and a nesting place for ducks, birds, etc.”
  5. “I’m part of the first Maple Creek class to graduate from Maple Creek Middle, and I am absolutely shocked these Asians are allowed to move the creek. If this doesn’t reek of corruption, I don’t know what does.”

These expressions, filled with a sense of loss and jealousy, can be understood in some ways. On one hand, it reflects the desire to protect nature, and on the other hand, it highlights the challenges faced by local Canadians due to the tax and welfare system, where some may benefit without much effort. The letters also express concerns about changes in the town’s character due to inflation and rising housing prices.

Encouraging the government to misuse its power to reject or indirectly refuse the rights of homeowners within the legal framework is dangerous.

Despite the opposition, CitiDesign has helped modify the design, and with the signed construction contract, the new building plan is about to be approved by the government. Although the Western neighbors are still causing difficulties and complaining to the government during the permit application process, we hope for a smooth construction process, and the homeowner can move into the luxury home with three generations living harmoniously!

Whether in TV dramas or real-life events, everything that happens originates from someone’s “jealousy.” The scriptwriters have provided many suspicious characters to portray this event. Greed attracts jealousy, and jealousy is hidden in people’s hearts, making it challenging to prove.

In places like Burnaby, Vancouver, and Richmond, where the Chinese population is relatively large, neighbors generally adopt an open and tolerant attitude toward Chinese people building new houses.

Yesterday, the Vancouver mayoral election results were announced, and the second-generation Chinese, Ken Sim, was elected with a high vote. This victory not only gained the support of local voters but also truly reflects the active participation and political awakening of our Chinese community. Canada is by no means a safe haven in politics, especially in our home province of BC. In recent years, the government’s taxation on housing, such as vacant home taxes, foreign buyer taxes, speculation taxes on aerial flips, additional taxes on homes over 3 million, and the media’s public opinion, mostly target our Chinese community. We all know who “foreign buyers” mostly refer to. Shen Guanjian’s election as Vancouver mayor is a milestone victory for the Chinese in Canadian politics. However, the path for the Chinese to participate in politics and build a safe and permanent home in Canada is still challenging. When faced with injustice, try not to remain silent and endure, but bravely raise your voice.

If you’ve made it this far, please give this post a like. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below. If you have any questions regarding land purchases, real estate transactions, or related matters, please reach out to me through my websites: BurnabyHouse.com and CitiDesign.ca.

Gary Gao, licensed Realtor® with Grand Central Realty, a licensed real estate brokerage in BC. Gary is also the principal of CitiDesign Build Inc., which is not affiliated with Grand Central Realty. CitiDesign and Gary are licensed builders in BC. Contact Gary.

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