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RDKB executes court-ordered removal at Demski property
The Regional District Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) lost no time when the spring thaw hit to execute a court-ordered removal of ten unapproved structures from Peter Demski's property on Granby Road in rural Grand Forks this week.
The wrecking crew arrived on the morning of Wednesday, March 28 with dump trucks and a trackhoe to take down ten trailers and remove the debris from the unapproved trailer park in Peter and Lisa Demski's yard.
Demski has a 136 acre land parcel along the Granby River, located about six kilometres up Granby Road. The land is zoned in the Agriculture Land Reserve (ALR) and is therefore allowed only one dwelling.
In September 2011, the RDKB won an injunction in the B.C. Supreme Court in Rossland to remove ten trailers from Demski's property that did not comply with the zoning bylaw for regional area D. The injunction required the property to be cleaned up by December 1, 2011. When it was not, the RDKB was authorized to proceed with the removal arrangements themselves and then to bill Demski for the removal and the court costs, which is about $15,000 to date. The removal could cost as much as $20,000. According to the contractor, the tipping fee is $300 a ton. With each dwelling weighing in at about three or four tonnes, the tipping fees alone could be $10,000.
"I'm trying to make some kind of good from this," said Demski, who was on site removing personal belongings and furniture from his own trailer, which is also being demolitioned. "It takes lemons to make lemonade."
Demski has operated the trailer park for the past five years on his 136 acre property.
"Seeing it needlessly destroyed obviously sucks and having to pay for it hurts financially, but I'll survive," said Demski, who has been amiable through the removal process. As for his future plans, Demski said it's too early to plan yet but, he might try to subdivide or become a cattle rancher.
Safety and sanitation of concern in trailer park
Health and safety issues were also a concern when the RDKB filed for the trailer park removal.
The situation started about three years ago when neighbours began complaining that the exsistence of the trailer park was infringing on the rural atmosphere in their community, said Mark Andison, RDKB director of planning and development, while on site at the demolition on Thursday, March 29.
Besides the community quality of life, there were safety and health issues. With the homes so close to the Granby River and the lack of a large scale sewage system in place, Andison wondered where all that sewage was going.
"And the water -- how was he providing it and to what standard," said Andison, pointing to a well head only a few feet away from the trackhoe. "We don't know what kind of monitioring or control was being done."
Andison said that when the electrician arrived yesterday to disable the power he found the wiring was not up to code in the dwellings, which was a potential fire hazard. And in fact there had been some fires over the years but "luckily no one was injured or killed in those fires" said Andison. The woodstoves were also not to code he said.
Residents already long gone from trailer park
When RDKB rolled in with their contracted demolition crew on Wednesday, March 28, no one but Demski was living on the property.
Demski said many of the residents, which included a family with three children, left in early December after the RDKB told them of the impending removal. The last tenant moved out last month. Some of the displaced people from Demski's property were living in the Grand Forks Hotel when it burnt down earlier this month. Two others are living at the Winnipeg Hotel.
The removal job is not quite done yet. Since the court order, Demski removed a few trailers contained within the injunction and added three more. RDKB will be returning to court to have those new trailers also removed from the property, said Andison.
With files from Mona Mattei.