Hot Springs residents claim YG breached court order

The Hotsprings Road residents association argues the Yukon government violated a court order by allowing construction in the subdivision to continue.

The Hotsprings Road residents association argues the Yukon government violated a court order by allowing construction in the subdivision to continue.

In an application filed April 21, lawyer Stephen Walsh is asking the Yukon Supreme Court to declare the government in contempt of court.

In a decision released March 14, Justice Miriam Maisonville found the Yukon government didn’t consult residents on the Takhini Hot Springs Ltd. plan to build nine homes on a single lot. She prohibited any development until consultation took place.

But construction went ahead anyway despite the order, Walsh claims.

In a March 29 email filed to the court, Walsh tells Mike Winstanley, a Yukon government lawyer, about Garry Umbrich’s “ongoing construction activities.”

Umbrich is one of the owners of the Takhini Hot Springs.

“Despite the court’s recent ruling, there has been a steady flow of trucks … delivering loads of construction materials to the Hotsprings,” he wrote. “My clients are very concerned about this.”

Walsh also included an email he received from Brian Farrell, president of the Hotsprings Road Development Area Residents Association in which Farrell claims he received a call from the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources about the issue.

The government, Farrell said, was waiting to know the Hot Springs’ position before deciding on next steps.

“In my view it would be inappropriate to be waiting on the Springs for their position rather than moving forward with broader public consultation,” he wrote.

EMR’s deputy minister Stephen Mills told Farrell of potentially changing the designation of the homes built on the property.

“From my perspective, the Yukon government is clearly acting in contempt of court by allowing this construction to continue,” Walsh wrote in a second email dated March 30.

He and Farrell at the time considered both seeking a contempt of court order and asking their MLA to raise the issue in the legislative assembly.

The government responded by saying it had issued a cease and desist order to Takhini Hot Springs.

But the government then issued a go-ahead order, Umbrich told the News.

“We were constructing three homes but one of those homes we’ve had to change, it’s no longer a residential home, it’s what called a vacation home,” he said. “Someone can’t move in it and live in it as a residence.”

Umbrich said he obtained the proper permits from the government after consulting with his lawyer.

“We changed our development permit from three residences to two residences so we could comply with the judge’s order.”

On March 31 the government sent Walsh a letter explaining that the land planning branch had met with Umbrich.

After receiving the approval, now invalidated, Umbrich hired a contractor to build three residences. Two single-family dwellings were almost done and construction for a third unit has started. Umbrich was selling two of the units but needed to register them first with the land titles office. He couldn’t register the third unit because of the recent judgment.

Umbrich then sought to amend his permits to bring them in conformity with the judgment, to establish two dwellings and two commercial areas.

“Land planning branch, being cognizant that third party rights would be unduly impacted if approval was not granted, approved the amended application … to register the condominium at the Land Titles Office,” Winstanley wrote.

Walsh also claims the government has not taken any step to start community consultation about Umbrich’s plans.

When asked about Umbrich’s explanation, Walsh told the News he wouldn’t comment on the case.

Contact Pierre Chauvin at pierre.chauvin@yukon-news.com

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