Penticton property owner disputes city’s contention that building is unsafe

Penticton staff recommend putting a notice on title of the building at 288 Westminster Ave.

Jay Ostrikoff sits in front of the storage area that features in a dispute between himself and city planning staff. Ostrikoff feels the city is misclassifying parts of his building according to the B.C. building code.

Jay Ostrikoff sits in front of the storage area that features in a dispute between himself and city planning staff. Ostrikoff feels the city is misclassifying parts of his building according to the B.C. building code.

Jay Ostrikoff wants everyone to know that his building is safe, despite concerns being raised by city staff in Penticton.

“This building is safe, secure and does no harm to anyone,” he said. “This building has been here since 1967 and it has been fully passed by the previous building inspector, and Interior Health has passed the one business that is required to pass.”

Ostrikoff is the owner of 288 Westminster Ave., which came under fire at last week’s council meeting, when staff presented the case for putting a notice on title until deficiencies were corrected. Ostrikoff is also owner, or part owner, of the other businesses in the building, with the exception of a suite leased out to a CUPE local.

In his report to Penticton city council, building and permits manager Ken Kunka listed four items that he said could result in damage to the building, neighbouring buildings or risks to life. However, Ostrikoff is at odds with the city staff interpretation of the building code, challenging every point Kunka made in his report.

Chief among Kunka’s concerns was an “illegal mezzanine without structural review and permits,” constructed in the shop area of the motorcycle customization business. The B.C. building code defines a mezzanine as being an intermediate floor assembly between the floor and ceiling of any room or storey and includes an interior balcony.

Ostrikoff said calling it a mezzanine is an exaggeration. To him, the construction, which divides a cubicle off the shop, is simply a shelf, and the detached staircase he also built was added because he got tired of needing a ladder to get to the storage area.

“You don’t need a permit to build a storage shelf,” he said. “There is no mezzanine here. There is a shelf that has a detached staircase.”

Ostrikoff has similar concerns regarding city staff’s insistence that a 45-minute fire separation is needed between the smaller businesses, despite losing a decision at the building code appeal board. That decision agreed with Kunka’s determination that the video store fell under a mercantile classification, rather than business and personal, as the other units do.

As well, Ostrikoff feels that since he retains ownership in the businesses, which all are less than 660 square feet in size, he should fall under the “sole occupancy” provisions of the B.C. building code.

In the decision, Ed MacKinnon, vice-chair of the building code appeal board, commented that a fire separation was indeed required between the video store and the other businesses. However, MacKinnon also stated that the city could not apply the requirement to the other suites, based on the possibility that they might at some point contain a store.

“The building code requirements are not based on future anticipated use, and must be applied based on the current occupancy of the suites,” said MacKinnon.

These disputes have led to frustration on both sides. In his report, Kunka described Ostrikoff as being resistant addressing the issues, while, for his part, Ostrikoff claims the city is the resistant party.

“It’s the opposite. It’s their way or the highway,” said Ostrikoff, who admits that his ongoing frustration with the city led him to skip trying to obtain a permit to build two walls which separate the custom bike shop from the area leased by CUPE. However, he said he went well beyond code when constructing the walls, installing an approximate four-hour fire separation rather than the required 45-minute barrier.

Mayor Dan Ashton acknowledged the disagreement in opinions, and said that made it all the more important for Ostrikoff to appear before council to present his side.

“He feels there is a difference of opinion in how the building code should be interpreted,” said Ashton, who visited Ostrikoff last Friday to talk with him about council’s decision and the process that would be followed to allow him to present his arguments before council officially posted a notice on title.

Ostrikoff said that a prior appointment in Vancouver will prevent him from appearing at the July 3 council meeting as requested, but Ashton said they would likely be willing to delay making a decision, given the strongly opposing viewpoints.

“It is subject to council’s approval,” Ashton said. “But I would prefer to hear from the property owner before making a decision.”