Campground Fights Zoning Law Against Seasonal Sites
Legal moves by the city council in Courtenay, British Columbia, against Maple Pool Campground launched nearly a year ago are still being pursued, City Hall confirmed this week.
Chief administrative officer Sandy Gray said the municipality was seeking an enforcement order against the owners to bring the use of the property into compliance with the zoning bylaw, the Comox Valley Echo reported.
Bringing the existing site in to conformity would be very difficult for the property's owners — and the action could lead to it closing down altogether.
That would mean more than 50 vulnerable tenants would have to find a new place to live — with no obvious solution on the horizon.
City staff had previously suggested that while a smaller, seasonal campground might be acceptable with pads only on higher ground, a permanent residential site at the location was no longer acceptable, despite it being in existence for decades.
The city first resolved to take action in December 2010 after flooding at the site, but gave owners Dali and Jin Lin time to consider how they might bring their property into compliance.
They fixed a backstop date of July 31 last year, but that passed and the council then decided to purse litigation.
Gray told the Echo this week: "The matter is currently being progressed through the Court Registry and our lawyers are working toward an initial hearing in the fall, hopefully in October.
"Between now and then, our lawyers will be preparing affidavits and related information as well as getting prepared for examination of discovery dates."
Local lawyer Clive Ansley, who is acting for the Lins, said from their side the position had not changed.
"This is a matter easily solved without recourse to the courts," he said. "Throughout, we have said we are prepared to enter into meaningful discussions to resolve this, but the city is pursuing resolution through the court system."
Getting both sides to the table to come up with a workable solution without going to court was supported by Larry Jangula before and during last November's municipal elections. He was elected mayor, but the legal action continues to roll forward.
He told the Echo that councillors had discussed the issue further since the election "and decided to continue the legal process — and as mayor I am obliged to represent the council's position."
Last summer, Ansley explained to the Echo that they had a pretty clear idea of the issues they needed to address and confirmed they were willing to pursue them.
"In a nutshell, we seek to rezone the area so it is in compliance, and we will have to meet concerns about flooding," he said.
Professional advice had been taken to show the physical improvements needed to the site could be carried out satisfactorily, he added.
But the city is pursuing the case on the basis of the existing zoning, not a change to it, although the Lins point out the land has been used as a campground for very many years without any issues over the zoning.