Fresh court litigation has been filed against a pair of property owners in the Princeton area, claiming they have “clearly and flagrantly” ignored a previous court order and regional district bylaws. (Dustin Godfrey/Western News)

RDOS seeks to end 10-year battle over Princeton property

New lawsuit claims property owners have ‘clearly and flagrantly’ violated the court and Building Bylaw

Princeton-area property owners were ordered by a court to get building permits for a now-10-year-old structure, but have instead gone ahead with building three more unsanctioned structures on their property, according to court filings.

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen is once again taking Timo Uolevt Kuoppala and Sinikka Taimi Kuoppala to court in a decade-long battle over the construction work, this time charging the property owners with contempt of court, alleging “flagrant and repeated” violations.

According to fresh litigation filed at the Penticton court registry, the regional district first noticed Timo Uolevt Kuoppala and Sinikka Taimi Kuoppala had violated its Building Bylaw in May 2008.

The RDOS noted the Kuoppalas did construction work on a structure on the property at 1840 Highway 3 west of Princeton, including a deck, stairs and wall, as well as changing occupancy of the building without permits.

An initial court action was filed against the Kuoppalas on March 1, 2011, and leading to a hearing on May 8, 2014 in Penticton’s courthouse.

At that hearing, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Beames imposed a court injunction on the Kuoppalas, barring them from further work on the property without permits, as well as prohibiting living in or using the building for anything but farm equipment.

They were also ordered to make “all reasonable efforts to obtain a building permit” and pass inspections by the RDOS by Aug. 6, 2014.

If the permits were not issued or the building demolished by May 8, 2015, “the (RDOS) may enter onto the property and demolish the structure and/or secure the structure to prevent access by the public and the respondents and recover all costs of demolishing and/or securing the property,” the 2014 court order reads.

“Despite the passage of almost four years and numerous efforts by the regional district, the respondents have not applied for permits or taken any other meaningful steps toward complying with the injunction,” the new court filing reads.

“Not only is the structure still unpermitted and in place, the respondents have actually erected three new structures in violation of s. 6.1 of the Building Bylaw.”

Those buildings include a a woodshed a sunshade and a cabin, which the RDOS said is being used as sleeping quarters for the Kuoppalas’ grandchildren.

In violation of the Zoning Bylaw, the RDOS said the cabin “contains a dangerous wood stove that is both uncertified and improperly installed, lacks safe egress and lacks smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.”

RDOS lawyers assert in the petition that the Kuoppalas “intentionally failed to comply with the order,” noting the “generous timeline for compliance,” since May 2014.

“Despite the passage of so much time, the respondents have not even taken the simple and basic step of applying for a building permit or a demolition permit,” the petition reads.

“Even worse, the respondents have constructed three new buildings upon the property without permits. … The new buildings show not only defiance of the regional district, but of the court itself.”

The RDOS is seeking further injunctive action on the Kuoppalas in its petition, going further than the

“The respondents have clearly and flagrantly violated … the Building Bylaw by constructing three new structures,” the petition said.

“Given the history of the respondents’ conduct, a mandatory injunction requiring them to demolish the structures, or at the regional districts option, permitting the regional district to do so, is an appropriate remedy.”

The RDOS is also seeking special costs from the Kuoppalas, noting the “tax-paying public has already once paid to litigate” the family.

“Having paid to obtain an order of the court, the taxpayers should not be forced to pay a second time to have it enforced.”

The Kuoppalas have not responded to the allegations, some of which have not yet been proven in court.


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