Shuswap couple shocked by eviction notice for rural illegal suite

Regional district says zoning doesn’t permit residence to be used as rental duplex

The weather outlook just got quite a bit colder for a Silver Creek family.

Elizabeth and David Mark and their two dogs have been advised they have until April 1 to find another home after their landlord handed them an eviction notice as directed by the Columbia Shuswap Regional District.

Liz says when she and her husband moved into a rental “duplex” in July 2018, the Johnson Road property owners did not inform them the unit was an illegal suite.

A letter delivered by a CSRD bylaw officer to landlords Dave and Myrna Button on Feb. 22 spells out the issues.

The property, which is zoned ‘rural,’ permits a single-family dwelling, “which is occupied or intended to be occupied as a permanent home or residence of not more than one family.” As well, the bylaw does not allow a second set of cooking facilities or a recreation vehicle.

The Buttons were given seven days in which to provide confirmation of their intentions for rectifying the problem to the CSRD, after which the CSRD threatened legal action.

CSRD Planning Services Team Leader Corey Paiement says the issue is one of zoning and that the Buttons were the subject of bylaw enforcement for the same non-compliance issue in 2016.

“I think it’s unfortunate the property owner put them (renters) in this situation; he knew he was non-compliant,” says Paiement.

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Shocked to be told they have one month to find another home, Liz says that while they have excellent references and long-term employment, their housing challenge is further complicated by their two English mastiffs.

Liz took her concern online to Salmon Arm Rant & Rave (Facebook) where she is also seeking a one or two-bedroom place in Salmon Arm, Armstrong or Vernon.

“(We are) really pissed off, when facing an extreme housing shortage, that government bodies are willing to shut down very nice, very well-built accommodations, showing no willingness to work with the owners to rectify the problems,” she writes.

“If there are no safety contraventions to a dwelling, why is the heavy-handed enforcement of the literal CSRD law necessary?” adds Dave Button in a Feb. 27 email to the Observer, noting he has recently made $31,000 in improvements to protect the building from flooding from Salmon River. “The CSRD is not there to provide housing and should possibly be aware that if best intentions between landlord and tenant are being met, then what good or what risk was prevented by the CSRD forcing an occupant to vacate a sound, well constructed dwelling?”

While the property owners will now face the cost of removing the second kitchen, they can apply to the CSRD to change the zoning. But that will take time and come at a cost.

As well as a $1,500 application fee payable to the regional district, Button would need an engineering report confirming adequate water and septic services and would have to put up a proposed development sign. The matter would then go to the board for first and second reading, with the usual public process to follow.

“The second part is that the property is located in the Agricultural Land Reserve so ALR approval would be needed as well,” says Paiement, acknowledging the current tight housing market. “We’re empathetic and if they need additional time, we might consider it, but not for an extended period of time.”


@SalmonArm
barb.brouwer@saobserver.net

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