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West Van home allegedly built without permits demolished

The bylaw and legal dispute over the home date back to 2014

A West Vancouver home allegedly built almost entirely without permits or inspections has now been demolished, ending a bylaw and legal dispute that dates back to 2014.

In October 2017, the District of West Vancouver filed a court petition seeking a court order to demolish the home at 733 20th St., alleging it was completed despite numerous stop-work orders being put on the site while it was still under construction in 2014.

In 2013, the owners applied for permits to do renovations and build an addition on the existing home. Those were approved in 2014 but West Vancouver staff learned from neighbours in February that year that the building had been mostly demolished without permits, according to the district’s court claim

Raven Garrow, the owner, submitted an application to build a new home on the site, but the district rejected the plans because they encroached on the legally required setbacks, the district’s petition stated.

By 2017, a new house had been built, which district staff visited and found numerous safety deficiencies: a leaking hosepipe bib flooding the yard with six to eight inches of water and submerging electrical outlets, mould in the basement and a buckling exterior wall, according to affidavits filed in court. The home had also been completed without the necessary plumbing, electrical or structural inspections, the district alleged.

At the time the district filed its petition in 2017, the owners had already filed their own petition, seeking a court declaration that the house was in fact properly permitted from the original plans approved by the district in 2014.

Before the matter could be heard in court, one of the mortgage lenders for the property filed its own petition intervening in the case, seeking foreclosure. The case became bogged down in further litigation and was delayed by COVID-19, until March of this year when a B.C. Supreme Court judge approved the Vancouver Community Credit Union’s request to foreclose on the property, court documents show.

“This process ultimately led to the resolution of the unlawful construction via foreclosure, sale of the property to a third party with full knowledge that the district would continue to pursue correction of the unlawful conditions to resolution, and removal of offending structure by the new owner as required by the district,” district spokesperson Donna Powers said in a statement.

The new owner demolished the home, which had never been granted an occupancy permit, at end of October with proper permits, the district notes.

“Ensuring compliance with building and land-use regulations is a very important element of the public interest, which the district seeks to protect and uphold. The district is pleased that the ultimate outcome of the action it undertook in this case is that the property has now been brought into compliance with its bylaws through the removal of the unlawful construction.”

The Garrows did not respond to a request for comment made on Friday.