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Saanich homes to have notice placed on title for unpermitted work

Council approves Section 57 notice for Judge Place, Old West Saanich Road homes
Saanich council has voted to have a Section 57 notice placed on title for two homes for which unpermitted construction has taken place. (Photo by Anne Nygard/Unsplash)

Saanich council has sent a warning shot over the porch to residents considering substantial construction projects on their home without first securing the appropriate permits and/or inspections.

The placement of a Section 57 notice for expired building permits and non-compliance with Saanich’s building bylaw was unanimously approved for properties at 1206 Judge Pl. and 5390 Old West Saanich Rd. at the May 30 council meeting. Both homes have been on staff’s radar for years due to significant unfinished, unpermitted work.

Neither homeowner appeared at the meeting to defend or explain their situation.

A Section 57 notice refers to a section of the B.C. Community Charter, which provides a tool for municipalities to administer and enforce the B.C. Building Code and local building bylaws. The notice remains on title until its removal and can be an impediment to a future sale of a property or the securing of a mortgage. Removal of such notices in Saanich costs the homeowner $500 and must see the property brought into compliance with building code regulations.

Before the vote on the Judge Place home related to expired permits, Coun. Nathalie Chambers asked staff whether the property owner had advised them of any extenuating circumstances, or if there might be cultural barriers to their completing the permit. Staff knew of none.

A staff report indicated work on the property began in 1994 when a building permit was obtained for an addition on the home for family members. Over the course of the next 20 years, various permits for work on the home were issued, expired or extended. In the most recent visit by bylaw enforcement and building inspection officials in March 2020, construction was clearly found to be continuing without a valid permit and a stop work order was posted.

In the case of the West Saanich Road structure, also a single-family home, a staff report states bylaw enforcement first became aware in 2013 of an addition and renovations being done without building or plumbing permits. The owner applied for a permit in 2014, but did not submit adequate information. That lack of application detail continued when the district began corresponding with a new owner in 2017.

Staff told council Monday that a registered letter was sent in February of this year advising the owner of the continued contravention of the building bylaw.

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