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‘I know that we need housing’: Pemberton homeowner refusing to remove illegal suite on principle

Village of Pemberton petitions Tiyata owner who built and rented secondary suite in contravention of zoning
N-Tiyata Village 29.34 BCCONDOSANDHOMES.COM
An overhead view of Tiyata Village in Pemberton.

A Pemberton homeowner in Tiyata Village says he is refusing to remove the secondary suite he had built and rented out in contravention of local zoning, after the Village of Pemberton (VOP) petitioned him in B.C.’s Supreme Court.

Filed Aug. 10, the legal petition against Shin Campos and his wife gives the owners 45 days from the date of the order to cease renting the ground-floor suite and remove the sink and dishwasher that were allegedly installed, without a permit, in breach of the Village’s building bylaw.

“The Village has requested that the Respondents voluntarily remove the Suite, but the Respondents have not agreed to the Village’s request,” the petition read.

In its filing, the VOP claimed Campos was also in breach of the BC Building Code by not installing a 45-minute fire separation between the suite and the rest of the residence.

The VOP is seeking the costs of its legal action as well as any further relief as deemed by the court.

In an interview, Campos said he was initially unclear on the zoning in Tiyata Village when purchasing the home, but believed he was permitted to build a secondary suite based on some of the chatter in the neighbourhood. He claimed he has also heard of “multiple” other suites in the area.

“I would say [to the VOP], ‘Hey, are you going to look at every other place in the Glen or the Tiyata? Are you going to inspect every place?’ Because 100 per cent, for sure, there are other suites in Tiyata,” he said. “I actually don’t know what the big deal is. Why wouldn’t they just change the zoning?”

Contributing to the confusion was the layout of the house itself, a four-bedroom, four-bathroom property, with two large flex rooms.

“All you have to do is look at it and be like, ‘Well, it’s basically built to have a suite on the main floor, for that style of house,’” Campos said. “I know the zoning doesn’t allow it, but at the same time, I thought, ‘Housing is a priority in Whistler and Pemberton.’ We had put in the suite and then I thought I could at least get a couple [to move in].”

Several of the early builds in Tiyata were reportedly constructed to include a large rec room with a separate back entrance that could resemble a secondary or so-called “nanny suite”—except for the fact they had no kitchen installed. Following the building inspector’s final inspection of the Tiyata Boulevard property in June of last year, the VOP alleged Campos converted a portion of the ground-floor residence into a suite by installing a sink, full-sized fridge, microwave, dishwasher, kitchen-style cabinetry and a 240-volt outlet.

Campos said he learned his property was non-conforming after the VOP notified him there had been complaints about the ground-floor suite, which he continues to rent to a young couple (a family of three rents out the main floor). He remains steadfast in his refusal to remove the suite, pointing to the Sea to Sky’s ongoing housing crisis as justification.

“I know maybe I did wrong, but after living around here for a long, long time, I know that we need housing. This is really what it all comes down to, in my opinion, is the housing problem.” he said.

Campos went on to question the philosophy behind zoning regulations that prohibit secondary suites, but wouldn’t prevent him from cramming a dozen tenants into a home—something he is considering if he does end up removing the suite.

“You know what I’ll have to do, and I think it’s within my legal rights to do, is advertise it as staff housing that’s perfect for 10 to 12 people, with four parking spots,” he said. “I’ll probably be able to make two to three times more than I actually make now, and I don’t actually want to do that, but I could because that’s still considered a single-family house.”

In May, the VOP sent a letter to registered homeowners in Tiyata informing them of an impending inspection to identify houses with an illegal secondary suite, and the subsequent removal of those suites.

“It has come to the Village’s attention that several properties in Tiyata Village may contain non-conforming secondary suites,” read the letter, which asked homeowners who do not have a secondary suite to complete a Statutory Declaration Form stating such.

“Please note that if you do not submit a statutory declaration, the Village will assume you have a non-conforming secondary suite. This is in contravention of the CD-5 zoning and will result in being billed the utility rate for a single-family home plus secondary suite and enforcement action being taken for the suite to be removed.”

Pique asked the VOP how many homes have been identified—either voluntarily or via inspection—as having non-conforming suites, and did not hear back by press time.

It remains unclear what the VOP’s crackdown could mean for Tiyata renters currently residing in an illegal suite. The VOP declined to comment specifically on its recent legal petition, with the matter still before the courts, but in June, told Pique in a statement it would “work with individual property owners through any transition that may be required and will provide generous timelines” following removal of the suites.

The current zoning for Tiyata Village was adopted in 2014, establishing the CD-5 Zone for a small lot subdivision. Due to the small lot concept and design, secondary suites were not contemplated due to the density of the area, according to the VOP.

-With files from Harrison Brooks

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