Owner of West Vancouver home denies building without permits
The owner of a West Vancouver home that the district says was built without proper permits has denied the allegations, saying the municipality’s legal move to have the structure torn down “defies any logic and reason.”
“The city may say whatever they choose to say, but…all of the professionals have provided their assurance that construction was carried out according to plan and according to these building codes,” a defensive Philip Garrow told CTV News Thursday.
Last week, the District of West Vancouver filed a petition asking the B.C. Supreme Court to force him and Raven Garrow to demolish the home, located at 733 20th Street, within 60 days.
Legal documents claim the homeowners violated zoning and building bylaws by demolishing the existing structure without permission and building a new home that didn’t match plans approved by district officials.
Municipal regulations require homes to have a setback of at least 7.6 metres for the front yard and 9.1 metres for the rear yard. The existing home did not meet these requirements, but was exempt because it was built before the current bylaw was enacted.
The municipality however, said the new home encroaches even further into the required setbacks than the old one.
But Garrow maintains the house was built according to approved plans “with minor variations” that don’t affect its permissibility.
“(The district is) basing their position on a number of rudimentary measurements that they have taken. They have never actually had a survey completed of the property,” Garrow said, adding that the homeowners have conducted their own survey that includes the home’s height, setbacks and other requisites.
“The bottom line is that we obtained the permits, we have registered professionals (and) they’ve completed the inspections.”
The Garrows intend to file their own petition seeking a declaration from the court that the home is legal.
If the property is found to contravene any bylaws, Garrow said the homeowners will make alterations to the structure so that it passes inspection.
“If it’s found that some part of the construction was non-conforming, then certainly we’ll abide by that,” he said, adding that they would only have to make “very small changes,” if any.
The district however, says the discrepancies between the approved plans the finished product cannot be fixed and the house must be demolished.
But Garrow said the heavy-handed approach is less about the bylaws and more about council members’ conservative attitude towards new developments.
“This city council and this mayor is comprised of one ethnic group who reside almost exclusively in a 10-block radius to where I stand now with a small group of constituents who are nostalgic for cottages in Ambleside dating back to 1940 (or) 1950,” he said, accusing the district of acting “based on what they perceive or think to be true and not based on the facts.”
If the homeowners don’t tear down the house within 60 days, however, the municipality is seeking permission to demolish it itself with the bill paid by the homeowners or added to their taxes.
The municipality also wants the court to ban anyone from living in the home until it’s torn down and for the Garrows to be barred from conducting any future building or development on the property without proper licensing.
With files from CTV Vancouver’s Shannon Paterson