Homeowner without an occupancy permit sues Town of Qualicum Beach


A long-standing dispute over a waterfront Qualicum Beach home, deemed two feet too high, is now heading for the courts.

The home’s owner, who’s been trying to get an occupancy permit for nearly five years, is now suing the town.

The lawsuit says city council was unreasonable or acted in bad faith when it directed staff not to issue an occupancy permit for the home that’s now been standing for close to five years.

The home is one of 55 in the Bluffs subdivision in Qualicum Beach, but it’s the only one neighbours say is too tall.

“Houses on the opposite side of the street and streets behind get full or partial water views depending on where you are, and yes, this has impacted some of the houses’ views,” said John Wood, past president of the Eaglecrest Residents’ Association.

Neighbours have dubbed it the “Darth Vader house” for its dark colour and finishing that they say doesn’t conform with the strata’s design guidelines.

“This is the only one that has not been built to that standard, and that includes finishing on the outside, stonework, colour and the fact that it’s overheight,” said Wood.

The Town of Qualicum Beach has also taken issue with its height, denying an occupancy permit allowing the owner to move in.

In a statement, Mayor Teunis Westbroek says a B.C. land surveyor has determined it’s two feet overheight, and “the Building/Owner was aware of the overheight prior to construction. Both the approved drawings and the Building Permit have notes requiring that a BC Land Surveyor provide verification that the height and siting met the Town’s Zoning Requirements…”

Westbroek did not answer other questions, citing the issue is now before the courts.

The homeowner, meanwhile, disputes knowing about any height concerns until after the home was built and says she relied on the expertise of the home’s builder. The height survey was done nearly five years ago.

“At that point, the process of removing and replacing the roof on her residence would be prohibitively expensive, hundreds of thousands of dollars to resolve what amounts to a very minor deviation from the zoning bylaw,” said Josh Bloomenthal, Krystyna Janik’s lawyer.

Bloomenthal says Janik’s done everything in her power to resolve the problem.

“The option at first was to flatten the one part of the roof that’s slightly overheight. Unfortunately, the registered building scheme prevented that cause it would result in what they call a flat roof,” said Bloomenthal.

The entire house cost $580,000 to build.

The lawsuit says Janik also examined the option of not requiring a variance and determined it would involve removing and replacing the entire roof and most trusses at a cost in excess of $300,000. Bloomenthal says his client is a pensioner and can’t afford that.

After denied variance requests, she’s now suing the town.

Bloomenthal says town council denied an occupancy permit which is not within their authority.

“What they’ve done effectively is unlawful. Council does not have the power or authority to direct town staff not to issue occupancy permits.”

The 33-page lawsuit also says the town’s independent building official is the only one that can withhold an occupancy permit under certain conditions that haven’t been met in this case.

The lawsuit, which asserts the variance request and appeal weren’t fairly considered, is asking for court orders or direction that would result in a variance being granted.

John Wood says the neighbourhood association supports the home being brought into compliance with the town’s bylaws and strata design guidelines.

“It hasn’t been built in accordance with the bylaws everyone else had to follow, so why is this home exempt from that?” he asks.

No court dates have been set as of yet.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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