Photo: Miles Mortensen has parked his motor home in view of Dawson Creek City Hall to protest his two-year-long battle with the City./Adam Reaburn
A Dawson Creek resident has gone to extremes to protest problems he has had trying to get a building permit from the City.
Miles Mortensen has parked a motor home across from City Hall with a spray-painted sign saying “Dawson Creek building inspectors make 66 year-old woman homeless” and encouraging people to visit a Facebook page he has set up.
Mortensen says the problems began around two years ago when he went to the City to apply for a building permit to fix up his aging mother’s home.
In 2009, Mortensen says he discovered his mother Dorothy Woolsey’s home required a considerable amount of repairs. He says that as a master restoration technician who is IICRC certified, he was able to properly complete the needed work. At the time, the City told him he would only require a permit if structural work was required. So, Mortensen says he got to work, but during the renovation, he discovered dry rot, which meant that structural work would in fact have to be completed.
Mortensen says when he went back to the City to request a building permit he was told that he could not obtain one because of a specific property setback bylaw. He says the bylaw states that a house must be at least 25 feet back from the property line before structural work can be done and since his mother’s home is less than 15 feet from the curb, the measurements caused some problems.
Awhile later, the City eventually told him he was allowed to perform the necessary renovations. After obtaining the permit in November 2010, Mortensen says the City’s building inspector told him the home would have to be brought in line with current B.C. building codes, which would be impossible without a significant amount of money; money he says his mother does not have.
According to Mortensen, the home is several decades old and just slightly more than 56 square metres. At the time when he originally tried to obtain a building permit, he says the property was assessed at $93,000, so the bank provided a $40,000 loan for the renovations
Yet, between the time his mother secured a loan for the renovations and when the building permit was issued, he says she had a severe anxiety attack due to stress, could no longer work and had to live off the loan instead of using it for the renovations.
Furthermore, he says the property is now only worth $55,000 and because it is unlivable, his mother is currently living in a fifth wheel on the property.
Mortensen has launched civil action against the City which is currently before the courts.
Mayor Mike Bernier says although he cannot discuss the civil suit, he stresses that everyone is treated equally when attempting to acquire a building permit. He says everyone is required to follow the same rules, no matter who he or she is.
Moreover, Bernier says that he has never heard of a complaint about the building permit process until Mortensen’s.