Old Fort homeowner seeks injunction to stop house demolition

An Old Fort resident is digging in against a board-ordered demolition of his home.

Darrell Williams says he will be seeking a court injunction against the Peace River Regional District, which has declared his riverfront home dangerous, and built without permits and against building rules.

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"I just want my day in court with a judge, preferably a jury, but that will never happen. And if I'm wrong I'll rip it down," said Williams, 71.

It's the latest salvo in an ongoing dispute between Williams and the regional district over the home at 9813 River Drive, perched on a hill that overlooks a backchannel of the Peace River and has seen an increasing number of landslides over the last few years.

In April, the district board approved a $35,000 contract to Haab Contracting to demolish the house. But earlier this week, Williams said he refused to allow them on his property, even with police officers present with a warrant, to begin pre-demolition work.

"I said the only way they're going to come in is you're going to take me to jail," Williams said.

Shawn Dahlen, acting chief administrative officer for the regional district, says the house was originally built without permits and against a covenant on its title. That covenant specifies where a home can be sited on the property and what kind of structures can be built for geotechnical reasons, Dahlen said.

The home has been subject of a number of stop work orders, and portions of the home are also built against BC Building Code rules, he added.

"It was built outside of those parameters. It was a stick-built home instead of a manufactured home or mobile home, which was originally recommended through the covenant," Dahlen said.

"It ended up becoming a concern for safety, not only for the resident, but if there were renters or if other people were on the property. The board ended up moving toward demolition."

The regional district ordered Williams to stop construction on the property and remove several hazardous structures — including a separate mobile home, a two-storey addition, and a deck in 2016.

Since then, Williams says he has removed the mobile home and has started to dismantle the two-storey structure, which he planned to use as a rental suite.

He blames BC Hydro and vibrations from heavy machinery at the Site C dam work site two kilometres upstream for increasing the frequency of slides on his property, and in the Old Fort area.

Williams doesn't believe his house is a danger, and says he has signed engineering reports to support him.

"My house is perfect inside. Down there is bad," Williams said.

"I would never endanger the life of my friends or family, even myself. Right now, I just want to be left alone. I want to live my life until I die here."

Dahlen said while some work to remediate the property had been done, it hasn't been done in full, which prompted the regional district to take action.

The regional district has yet to receive any legal documents from Williams, and will proceed as planned until it does, he said.

If the house is demolished, the regional district has an opportunity to claim back its costs through a lien on the property, Dahlen said. 

Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at editor@ahnfsj.ca.

© Copyright 2018 Alaska Highway News

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