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Pickton farm nearly forgotten as new development emerges

A townhouse development neighbouring on the lot where evidence related to the Robert Pickton case was found.

Steven Chua/The Globe and Mail

The Port Coquitlam property has since been redeveloped, giving rise to big businesses including a Costco, a Tim Hortons and a McDonald's. But a decade ago, the sprawling property at 953 Dominion Ave. was Robert Pickton's farm – the grisly setting from which police would embark on what is considered the largest serial killer investigation in Canadian history.

As commissioner Wally Oppal prepares to release his 1,448-page report on Monday outlining why the serial killer wasn't caught sooner, despite police having evidence linking Mr. Pickton to the disappearance of sex workers from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside years before his 2002 arrest, area locals say the Pickton case is now firmly a part of history.

"I know stuff happens," said David Novotny, a construction worker who helped build a townhouse complex bordering the empty land that is the convict's former home. "But I don't dwell on the past."

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Despite working mere metres away from the property, the murders have rarely crossed Mr. Novotny's mind.

The vast lot, where investigators found the remains or DNA of 33 women, is now enclosed by a chain-link fence. It stands almost entirely empty, save for two dirt mounds about two storeys high and a barn. The space served as a grazing area for cows following the Pickton case, but its only tenants now are Canada geese.

A sign on the barn reads Poco Valley Cattle Co.

Lauren Delory, a resident living near the new developments, said neighbours haven't talked about the incident in a while.

"I haven't heard anything with relevance to [the Pickton case]" since his trials, Ms. Delory said.

She hopes, however, that the missing women report can "give the families some peace of mind."

The case is still a sensitive topic; furrowed brows and dark looks were common responses among residents asked about the incident.

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Many who remember the incident said they no longer talk about the case and are looking to move on.

Mr. Pickton was charged with 26 murder counts, but convicted in 2007 in six. He is serving a sentence of life in prison with no possibility of parole for 25 years.

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