Council cracks down on Penticton business owner

Owner of Westminster Ave. building will first get to explain apparent disregard for safety codes

The City of Penticton plans to place a notice on title for this building at 288 Westminster Ave. W. due to a host of building code violations.

The City of Penticton plans to place a notice on title for this building at 288 Westminster Ave. W. due to a host of building code violations.

The owner of a property along Westminster Avenue has just a couple of weeks to prepare his case as to why Penticton council should not order a restrictive notice on title be placed on his commercial building.

At their regular board meeting Monday, council directed that the owner of 288 Westminster Ave. W. be notified of their plans to place a notice on title for a list of building code violations and give him the opportunity to speak to council at their July 3 meeting before following through.

City staff have been working with the property owner since last August, when a business licence application for a home-based business planning to relocate to the building revealed a series of issues. Ken Kunka, the city’s building and permitting manager, presented council with a long list of staff interactions attempting to work with the owner to resolve the problems. In the end though, little was accomplished.

“The owner has shown resistance to provide a clear direction to how building code, health and safety issues will be resolved,” his report reads. “The owner has also shown a disregard for city requests and the safety of his tenants and the general public by allowing potentially unsafe conditions to remain.”

“The main concern at the time was the creation of multiple commercial rental units without the benefit of building permits or issuance of business licences,” said Kunka. “It appeared that staff and the owner worked to bring the building into compliance and, on good faith, issued one business licence with the understanding that outstanding issues would be completed within a timely manner.”

Those issues were never resolved, according to Kunka, who said that staff were concerned that fire separations between the units were not up to code, and posed a risk to life and safety. Kunka showed where fire separations had been removed to allow for plumbing and electrical for new units.

Another major concern was the construction of a mezzanine-style storage area in a motorcycle repair shop housed in the building.

“Recently, West Kelowna had a major catastrophe. An office conversion that was done without permits collapsed and killed the person working below,” said Kunka, adding that a similar event could occur in this instance, and there were no records of any permits or engineering involved in the construction of the storage area.

“In addition, only one of the four business in the building holds a valid business licence. Business licences cannot be granted until the owner corrects these building deficiencies,” said Kunka, noting that the building is currently up for sale. “A notice on title would give warning to any potential purchaser or lenders that the infractions of municipal bylaws occurred.”

It would also, he said, send a message to other contractors and property owners that there are consequences. Once the notice on title is in place, Kunka said city staff will issue daily fines as long as the offences continue. The file will also be handed over to the Fire Commissioner of B.C., which might result in other legal actions.