The Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) is taking two local property owners to court over what it calls “Unlawful Use of Property.”
The RDKB says that it has the authority to regulate land use within its boundaries, thanks to Electoral Area D zoning bylaw 1299, 2005, and that Peter Demski and sister Lisa are in violation because of at least 10 trailer units on their Granby Road property.
“Basically, I’m trying to provide low income housing for people and the RDKB wants to tow my trailers out of there and basically charge me with the expense of doing it,” Peter Demski explained.
“They’ll put it on my land taxes so I have to pay it and do all that ‘fun stuff.’”
Demski said that the RDKB says that he doesn’t have the proper permits and is only allowed one dwelling on his 55-hectare (136-acre) property.
Mark Andison, the RDKB’s director of planning and development, alleges that Peter Demski towed the trailers onto his property illegally and confirms that he is in violation of the zoning bylaw and the Agricultural Land Commission Act.
Andison also confirmed that Demski had multiple mobile homes on his property and that the zoning bylaw only allows for one single-family dwelling per property.
He said that there have been complaints about the mobile homes from locals as well.
“At this point we’ve ordered that they be removed and he hasn’t done so, so we are seeking a court injunction to have the trailers removed,” Andison said.
“Because he’s brought those mobile homes on there contrary to the zoning bylaw, there are no building permits or any other types of permits he would normally be required to get to locate a mobile home on the property.”
Demski said that removing the trailers will mean that people will lose their homes.
“The fact of the matter is, it’s low income housing. There’s a family with three kids living there and there are a bunch of other people living there and they’re going to be put out on their ears basically because some stupid zoning (bylaws),” he said. “If the government could get parcels of land and stick a bunch of old trailers on them, it’s much better than living in a cardboard box, isn’t it?”
Demski said that he wants to work with the RDKB and keep the trailers on his property under the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR).
“My land is on the ALR. I’m allowed 10 dwellings for farmers’ helpers, cabins, (that) sort of thing, so I’m trying to maybe go on that basis but I’m just at the point where I’m getting pushed around by these guys and the only way to push back is voice yourself,” Demski said.
He said that the RDKB is supposed to work with people, not against them and he said that it isn’t looking for solutions to the problem but rather thinking of ways to stop him.
“We pay them our tax dollars to (screw) us. They go down to people’s places and they say, ‘Oh you can’t build this little lean-to. You should use a 2×4 instead of a 2×6,’” said Demski.
Andison said that he couldn’t speak to Demski’s trailers being used as affordable housing.
“All I can speak to is the fact that what he’s done is contrary to the regional district’s zoning and building bylaws,” he said.
The RDKB’s director of planning and development said that the RDKB is looking to have a preliminary hearing in late-September – papers served to Demski indicate it could be the week of Sept. 26. in Rossland.