Major Vernon housing development shuts down

While Stoni Consolidated Holdings and the City of Vernon squabble over legalities, there is a serious issue that is being ignored.

The City of Vernon Building and Plumbing Bylaw No. 4900 makes no reference to possible structural damage to neighbouring homes as a result of adjacent developments.

Bylaw 4900 relates entirely to the development itself.

The city apparently has no accountability or liability for any damage to neighbouring homes that result from adjacent construction.

Any structural damage that results to neighbouring homes is considered to be, by the city, an issue between the developer and the neighbouring homeowners.

This is in spite of the fact that the city issues permits for the development and carries out inspections to ensure that bylaw 4900 is being followed.

The city has authority without accountability — a situation not considered part of a democratic society.

In the case of the reservoir development, no assessment of risk of structural damage to neighbouring homes has been done by the city, nor required of the developer.

This is unconscionable, keeping in mind that the East Hill has a history of instability resulting in loss of houses and lesser, though serious, structural damage.

The City of Vernon and the developer need to accept responsibility for their actions, as outlined in the following references:

1. Guidelines for Legislated Landslide Assessments; revised May 2010 for Proposed Residential Development in British Columbia.

2. Review of Landslide Management in British Columbia – 2013

Recommendation 5: The province should work with the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of British Columbia, the Union of BC Municipalities, academia, industry and other stakeholders to identify a provincial standard for minimum acceptable risk thresholds for landslide hazards which would be applicable to Crown land dispositions, new developments, subdivision approvals and the design to protect existing development.

Recommendation 9: The province should encourage local governments to enact bylaws and policies to guide development away from areas at risk of landslides and to require the use of qualified professionals to assess the risk in hazard zones.

3. Housing Foundations and Geotechnical Challenges: Best Practices for Residential Builders in British Columbia.

Barry Stanley

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