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Court says unpermitted structures must go

Structures violated Bowen's building bylaws as well as provincial rules

The BC Supreme Court has ruled that structures built in violation of Bowen’s Building Bylaws must be demolished.

The case between Bowen Island Municipality – the petitioner, and respondent David Pelletier was settled in court in December. It stemmed from the construction of several structures both on Pelletier’s property and bordering Crown land that had neither municipal or provincial permission to build and occupy. These included a deck, dock, gangway, and multiple sets of stairs connecting these structures on the westside waterfront property.

Court documents show that the municipality (BIM) became aware of the structures in 2021, none of which had municipal building permits. Additionally, the portion of property that borders the water is Crown land and no approval had been given by the provincial government for building. BIM attempted to discuss options with Pelletier to bring the structures into compliance via site visits and a variety of written means including letters, bylaw offence notices, stop work orders, and letters from legal counsel.

When none of these methods worked, in September 2021 BIM ordered Pelletier to remove the structures, which he didn’t comply with. The court noted that building bylaws apply to both structures constructed by current or prior owners of the property.

In his defence Pelletier said he was being singled out by the municipality since the use of Crown land for personal structures is widespread on the island, including on his own street. Justice J. Miriam Gropper concluded there was no acceptable evidence to support Pelletier’s position.

From the evidence provided Gropper found that Pelletier both built and continues to use the structures in question, actions in violation of several sections of the Building Bylaw. The judge ordered Pelletier to apply for a demolition permit within 30 days of the verdict, and to demolish the deck, stairs, and gangway within 30 days of the permit being issued. If these steps aren’t taken Gropper authorized the municipality to carry out the work at the respondent’s expense.

Pelletier was also found responsible for covering the municipality’s legal bill of $4,366.08.