The mayor of Colwood is looking to move on from a dispute between the City and Coun. Cynthia Day who was arrested Wednesday after refusing to allow the City to remove rock walls on the boulevard in front of her house.
“The work that was undertaken [Wednesday] was directed by two consecutive councils,” said Colwood Mayor Rob Martin. “It was originally approved by the previous council, and was reaffirmed by the current council on Nov. 26. My goal now is to put this issue behind us and move forward as a strong and united council.”
City crews showed up at the councillor’s home on Charnley Place Wednesday morning to remove rock walls built by Day’s husband Tim on the boulevard more than 20 years ago. The City claims, after conducting an engineer’s report, that the walls are a safety and liability issue, however, the homeowners dispute that claim.
“Colwood council and staff have spent many hours over the last year and a half working with the Days in an effort to come to a mutually agreeable solution, including offering an agreement that would have avoided [Wednesday’s] outcome,” said Sandra Russell, Colwood’s communication manager.
The Days constructed the rock walls and planted trees on the public boulevard in front of their home in 1995.
In 2003 at the Days’ request, the City provided a Highways Use Permit, which documented the unpermitted works, and allowed the homeowners to make some upgrades.
In 2017, the City was advised that one of the trees the Days had planted in the public right-of-way fell onto a neighbouring home. The area was assessed and several trees were removed from the City property.
The Days were provided with an encroachment agreement by the City that would allow all the remaining plantings and structures to stay in place, with the homeowners assuming all responsibility. The Days were given two opportunities to sign and return the encroachment agreement (Jan. 31 and Apr. 12), according to the City.
The Days did not want to sign the encroachment agreement for a few reasons, one being the cost of associated insurance. The second involves who would be responsible for oversight. With the Highways Use Permit, the property would be maintained by homeowners with oversight by a municipal engineer. With an encroachment agreement, the oversight would be done by any staff member which the Days felt was inappropriate.
The homeowners refused to sign the encroachment agreement, therefore the City was “required to address the safety issue by removing the structures from public property.”
The majority of that work was completed Wednesday after Day was arrested for mischief.
She was released without charges, based on her giving her word that she wouldn’t obstruct work by the City any further.
“I’m certainly going to try to do something about what they’ve done. Unfortunately, my only recourse is through civil court. It costs a lot of money to take the City to court. That is certainly a consideration,” said Day.
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