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Next to Pickton pig farm, life goes on and land values rise

The Pickton pig farm abuts a picturesque townhouse development in Port Coquitlam. Twenty-seven kilometers east of Vancouver, here is where the farmer was said to have slaughtered his female victims, sex trade workers from Vancouver's East Side.

But life goes on and it takes more than murder, apparently, to stop property in the greater Vancouver area from rising in value.

Defence lawyers last week wrapped up their case on behalf of the accused serial killer last week, not long after I took my child for a play date at the home of a new friend who lives next door to the farm of the third generation pig farmer. It was a lovely home bursting with happy kids and a dog with a waggling tail. All along the street were other family homes.

When Pickton was first accused, I learned, home owners worried that their next door neighbour's murderous activities would cause their property values to collapse.

They worried that the government would requisition the property in order to dig up grounds that might contain valuable evidence. That never happened and instead of falling, prices in the townhouses next to the Pickton farm showed themselves to be impervious to catastrophe.

Now, a few more words about Pickton. For those of you who are eating your supper, stop reading here. If you are simply drinking coffee, please, go on, but it is a good idea to have some Alka Seltzer or any other stomach ache remedy nearby. Okay, here we go:

"That concludes the evidence on behalf of the defence," lawyer Adrian Brooks announced to the courtroom, last week, six weeks after Pickton's team elected to call witnesses, and almost nine months after the jury trial began.

As has been reported ad nauseum, Pickton, 57, is accused of killing 26 women. This trial is focused on six: Sereena Abotsway, Mona Wilson, Andrea Joesbury, Brenda Wolfe, Georgina Papin and Marnie Frey. The crown stated that Pickton told an undercover police officer posing as a cell mate that he wanted to kill another woman to make it an even 50, and that he was caught because he was "sloppy."

In the bad old days, Pickton and his brother, David Francis Pickton, ran a registered charity called the Piggy Palace Good Times Society, a non-profit society whose official mandate was to "organize, co-ordinate, manage and operate special events, functions, dances, shows and exhibitions on behalf of service organizations, sports organizations and other worthy groups."

According to investigators, the "special events" (which convened at Piggy's Palace, a converted building on another property adjacent to the pig farm) on Burns Road were drunken raves that featured "entertainment" by an ever-changing cast of Downtown East-side prostitutes.

Today, the 'hood around the pig farm has the picture perfect look of newly constructed middle-class suburbia. Children play on the sidewalks and ride their bikes down the pretty streets. Concrete blocks rise around the border of the farm.

If you look over the barrier, there is not a pig to be seen.

photo of Pickton pig farm by Linda Solomon

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