Rural Oliver property facing potential injunctive action from Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen over broken bylaws

Rental units break bylaws

A rural Oliver property is in hot water with the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen, after district staff say owners breached building use permits by operating a rental unit and ignored a stop work order.

According to a report from RDOS staff that will be presented to the board of directors this week, the acreage in the 3000 block of Fruitvale Way south of the Town of Oliver is located within the Agricultural Land Reserve.

Its owners applied for and received a permit exemption for a farm storage/shop building in 2009, under the understanding there would be no plumbing in the building and it would not be an inhabitance.

In early 2021 the report reads, an RDOS building official noticed an addition being constructed to that supposed shop building. A stop work letter was sent, requesting the owners apply for a building permit, giving a late February deadline.

That deadline passed, and in the spring, officials found work had continued. Both floors of the building had been converted into dwelling units.

Final notice letters and fines were issued in the summertime, with no response from owners.

In spring 2022, a building official visited the site with an ALC compliance officer, and the owner's son.

"The farm building consists of a two bedroom suite on the upper floor, which now has an exterior exit, and the lower floor is a three bedroom suite. Both suites were occupied by tenants. The lower level does appear to have some space dedicated to farm use," reads the RDOS report.

In the summer, a representative of the owner indicated they would be making steps to bring the property into compliance and re-apply to the ALC for appropriate rezoning.

But as of December, there had been no further contact from the owner or a representative, and the ALC had not received an application.

"As the building has never been inspected, it is unknown whether health & safety related items such as smoke detectors and emergency exits meet the BC Building Code. It is also unknown if this building has a septic system or if it is tied into the septic system for the single family dwelling (not permitted by IHA Public Health)," the RDOS staff report reads.

"Reasonable time and efforts have been made to achieve voluntary compliance for both issues, with the property owners. Liability to the RDOS could be substantial as the two occupied dwelling units are in an uninspected building which was built to store farm equipment."

Staff recommend that the board vote to move forward with a notice on the land title, and that if by July 15 the property is not in compliance with RDOS bylaws, injunctive action be sought.

There are currently renters in the property, hence the lengthy timeline to allow proper notice to the tenants to move.

The board meets Thursday, and will discuss and vote on the matter at that time.

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