Granny suite gets go ahead

A Hillcrest couple are breathing a sigh of relief this week. Monday, city council agreed to amend the zoning of their detached garage, which was built 18 inches too close to their property line.

A Hillcrest couple are breathing a sigh of relief this week.

Monday, city council agreed to amend the zoning of their detached garage, which was built 18 inches too close to their property line.

The entire process was “extremely tense and long,” said owner Dianne Williams. “(But) we’re happy with the outcome.”

It was almost four years ago when Williams and her husband, Darol Stuart, started construction on the garage.

They pulled the permits and hired a contractor.

“As laypersons we had a reasonable expectation that the contractor would inform us of important information such as building codes, material expenses and all mandatory inspections,” said Williams.

But he didn’t.

Without getting the proper inspections done, the contractor dug down two metres and poured the concrete footings for the garage. But he put them in the wrong place, encroaching on the side and rear yard setbacks.

After they fired the contractor in 2009, they called for an inspection of the framing he did.

Though the inspector noticed that the first inspection for the footings was missed, he signed off on the framing.

“The guy said, ‘Oh, this is the first time we’ve been here,’ but what does that mean to me?” said Williams. “Had he said, ‘you need to get that inspected’ we would have.

“The guy was back three times and still never said anything about the site plans. In our view that would have been the time to correct it.”

The mistake wasn’t discovered until three years later, when Williams and her husband applied for a plumbing permit, to turn the second storey of the garage into a hairdressing salon for their daughter.

Only then did the city notice that the building was in the wrong place.

By that time, the summer of 2011, the garage was pretty much finished, and moving it would was going to cost around $25,000.

In February 2012 the couple applied for a zoning amendment to bring the building into conformity.

When it came down to a vote this week, city administration recommended rejecting the application. They warned that approving it would set a precedent that would encourage similar applications in the future.

Only Coun. Betty Irwin agreed with that assessment.

“It’s ultimately the responsibility of the property owner,” she said. “You can hire a contractor, you can hire your friend Joe who owns a wheelbarrow, but ultimately you are responsible for following the conditions of that building permit.”

But only Irwin and Coun. Dave Stockdale voted against the amendment.

Stockdale had his own reasons. Before the vote, he proposed a motion to delay the vote until council examined the permitting process more closely. But it was struck down.

“I’m voting against this, but not for the reason that administration is suggesting, that there were too many irregularities,” he said. “I’m voting against it because council won’t reconsider sitting down and talking about it a little bit more to get more clarity.”

The rest of council voted for the amendment.

“I think we as a city dropped the ball at one point,” said Coun. Dave Austin. “I’ve been around 12 years now and this is not the first time our inspectors have done this.

“I think these people have every right to enjoy the building that they’ve built. We’re talking about (18) inches of property here.”

Coun. Kirk Cameron agreed.

“I think it’s entirely within our purview to say, let’s give these guys a break,” he said.

But Williams doesn’t place all the blame on the city. When asked by council she admitted that she shared some responsibility for the snafu.

“Definitely,” she said. “Not knowing the process and hiring a moron.”

Now that she has the approval of council to move forward with construction, Williams and her husband are free to finish off the suite, which they now plan to turn into a small apartment for their potential “boomerang children.”

However, because it’s so late in the construction season it won’t likely be finished until next summer, she said.

Her hope is that after all of this, the city, and the planning department, will take a look at their process and try to make the requirements for building permits a little more clear.

“You don’t even know the questions to ask; that’s why you talk to the city and that’s why you hire professionals,” said Williams. “There seems to be a big gap in what the homeowner’s supposed to know.”

Contact Josh Kerr at

joshk@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Yukon First Nation Education Directorate education advocates and volunteers help to sort and distribute Christmas hamper grocery boxes outside Elijah Smith Elementary School on Feb. 23. (Rebecca Bradford Andrew/Submitted)
First Nation Education Directorate begins Christmas hamper program

Pick-ups for hampers are scheduled at local schools

Cyrine Candido, cashier, right, wipes down the new plexi-glass dividers at Superstore on March 28, before it was commonplace for them to wear masks. The Yukon government is relaunching the Yukon Essential Workers Income Support Program as the second wave of COVID-19 begins to take place in the territory. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon Essential Workers Income Support Program extended to 32 weeks

More than 100 businesses in the territory applied for the first phase of the program

City of Whitehorse staff will report back to city council members in three months, detailing where efforts are with the city’s wildfire risk reduction strategy and action plan for 2021 to 2024. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Council adopts wildfire risk reduction plan

Staff will report on progress in three months

asdf
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for Nov. 25, 2020

Ivan, centre, and Tennette Dechkoff, right, stop to chat with a friend on Main Street in Whitehorse on Nov. 24. Starting Dec. 1 masks will be mandatory in public spaces across the Yukon in order to help curb the spread of COVID-19. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
UPDATED: Masks mandatory in public places starting on Dec. 1

“The safe six has just got a plus one,” Silver said.

Lev Dolgachov/123rf
The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner stressed the need to safeguard personal information while shopping this holiday season in a press release on Nov. 24.
Information and Privacy Commissioner issues reminder about shopping

The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Diane McLeod-McKay stressed the need to… Continue reading

Keith Lay speaks at a city council meeting on Dec. 4, 2017. Lay provided the lone submission to council on the city’s proposed $33 million capital spending plan for 2021 on Nov. 23, taking issue with a number of projects outlined. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Resident raises issues with city’s capital budget

Council to vote on budget in December

Beatrice Lorne was always remembered by gold rush veterans as the ‘Klondike Nightingale’. (Yukon Archives/Maggies Museum Collection)
History Hunter: Beatrice Lorne — The ‘Klondike Nightingale’

In June of 1929, 11 years after the end of the First… Continue reading

Samson Hartland is the executive director of the Yukon Chamber of Mines. The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during its annual general meeting held virtually on Nov. 17. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Yukon Chamber of Mines elects new board

The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during… Continue reading

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and — unsurprisingly — hospital visitations were down. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Annual report says COVID-19 had a large impact visitation numbers at Whitehorse General

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

City council was closed to public on March 23 due to gathering rules brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The council is now hoping there will be ways to improve access for residents to directly address council, even if it’s a virtual connection. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Solution sought to allow for more public presentations with council

Teleconference or video may provide opportunities, Roddick says

Most Read