Saanich council denies owner’s dream of a house on a hill

Mounds of fill trucked to West Saanich Road to raise the height of the property

The view from a neighbouring property shows the man-made mound of fill at 5813 West Saanich Rd. Saanich council denied a variance that would allow the property owner to build a house on top of the mound.

After years of trucking in fill at his property of 5813 West Saanich Rd., Saanich council rejected Leon Rosteski’s request for a height variance of 11.2 metres for a new house building permit.

Rosteski has been intentionally filling in the land on a section of the property, estimated to be more than 25,000 cubic metres, always with a plan of building a house on top of it. But on Monday night council unanimously supported staff’s recommendation against the variance, which is 37 feet.

One problem that irked neighbours was the years of noise as the mound was constructed. But the main issue is that the mound of fill is considered unnatural grade, and the height for the house is to be measured from the bottom of the mound where it is natural grade.

“Normally variances are only a couple of feet, this is quite a lot more,” said Coun. Vicki Sanders.

It was a sentiment echoed by most of council.

“I can see the rationale in supporting a variance for an even grade, but to construct nearly 40 feet, and then put house on top of it for a view is not compelling rationale,” said Coun. Dean Murdock.

While defending his application in front of council on Monday, Rosteski claimed he was never told the fill would be a hindrance, though Saanich maintained it was evident he would need a variance at the time of the application.

Rosteski also claimed the controversy wasn’t around the height variance, it was about the mound of fill the house would be sitting on.

“There are many houses 37 feet high in Saanich,” he said.

The growing mound of earth caught the attention of neighbours back in 2012, when a group of residents complained to Saanich council.

Back then, Rosteski told the News he was filling the yard “to a height where I get a view, and then I’m going to build [a house] on top of it.”

And on Monday, Rosteski suggested staff should have told him years ago he would have problems acquiring a building permit.

Murdock said he believes staff would have likely been clear, at the very least, that a variance would be needed if Rosteski had mentioned he planned to build on the mound, and that planning and engineering staff do not know which way council will decide.

“I lament the owner who chased his dream of building a hill in his yard and building a home on top of it but I have to support [staff] that this variance is too much,” said Coun. Fred Haynes.

Rosteski’s legal representation claimed 14 letters in support plus as many as 17 more that were not against the variance.

A few neighbours spoke against the property though Jeff Shaw, the vice-chair of the Prospect Lake Community Association, spoke in favour of it.

Rosteski was legally permitted to add fill to the property. He lives in a 2001-built home on the property that was once a barn. Saanich amended its fill bylaw in 2012 while Rosteski was working with the municipality.

Rosteski said most of the fill came from the Capital Regional District’s McTavish Reservoir replacement project in North Saanich.

As it stands, the mound can be removed if Rosteski wishes, though he’ll need a permit for removal.


– With files from Kyle Slavin



Just Posted

B.C. mom, kids on bike turned away from Tim Hortons drive-thru

Car-free for years, Charity Millar ‘felt gross’ being denied service

Saanich mom on a bike turned away in Tim Hortons drive-thru

Car-free for years, Charity Millar ‘felt gross’ being denied service

Saanich residents asked for input on Tripp Station Youth Park

Staff are considering a bike park, parkour course, zipline and more

Body found in Central Saanich waste recycling facility deemed non-suspicious

Coroners Service investigating circumstances of death

West Shore RCMP spend four hours searching for roving hikers

RCMP say stay put once you’ve called for help and listen to instructions

POLL: Do you plan on making any purchases on Black Friday?

We’ve all seen the images. Shoppers rioting outside of a store in… Continue reading

B.C. man gets life with no parole until 2042 for murder of Belgian tourist near Boston Bar

Sean McKenzie pleaded guilty to second-degree murder of 28-year-old Amelie Christelle Sakkalis

‘Very disrespectful’: B.C. first responder irked by motorists recording collisions on cellphones

Central Cariboo Search and Rescue deputy chief challenges motorists to break the habit

Daily cannabis linked to reduction in opioid use: B.C. researchres

Researchers looked at a group of 1,152 people in Vancouver who reported substance use and chronic pain

Port Alberni rallies for mill workers

Fundraisers helping ease the sting of five months without work

Island student lobbies school board for dress code consistency

Jaylene Kuo contacted school trustees after seeing dress guidelines at brother’s school

Bids down, costs up on Highway 1, B.C. independent contractors say

Rally protests NDP government’s union-only public construction

Members of little people community applaud change to drop ‘midget’ term

‘It’s not about sensitivity,’ says Allan Redford, the president of the Little People of Canada

Most Read