Spirit of the bylaw

Recently we attended a building variance application hearing for the lot beside ours.This lot is triangular, and the applicants knew that their house would not fit on it prior to purchase, but refused to modify  their plans.We are not opposed to variances where they genuinely needed, and one or two variances would have allowed a substantial home to be built. But with 30 per cent of their building encroaching, seven variances were required.   The applicants didn’t like where a deck fitted within the setbacks,  so their back corner eaves and deck were allowed to be one foot from the property line.   A six metre front setback was allowed instead of 7.5 metres. A city employee told us six metres was plenty for snow clearing etc. That’s excellent news. Let everyone have six metres. The applicants assumed  the planning  department and councillors would bend to their demands. They were correct. Apparently the bylaws were designed for 60 x 120 rectangular blocks. For irregular shaped lots, we’re told, the “spirit of the bylaw” applies.   As one of the applicants is a doctor, two councillors declared conflict, and did not vote. Remarkably, only Coun. Palmer, who opposed the amount of variances, asked why with a new building, no effort was made whatsoever to comply with the setbacks. The answer – it didn’t suit their plan!   With the “spirit of the bylaw” why change anything? All owners of the hundreds of irregular shaped, “unique”  lots should know of this decision. The enclosed front porch, that addition or deck that encroached, may be applied for with the “spirit of the bylaw.”   We, like many others, believe the granting of so many unnecessary variances is wrong.  However we respect the due process  that allows it. But it shouldn’t apply to just a few.Advice to variance applicants. If asked to consider modifying  your plan, say emphatically “no,” adding, “I’d rather have teeth pulled” (or similar) ensuring they know you won’t budge. Then throw a mini tantrum saying  “If I cant get my plan, I will build within the setbacks the worst building you ever saw“  (or similar).   A 1-3 year old at home is very helpful , you can imitate their behaviour when they can’t get their own way. It works.D and A BrunkerFernie

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