Today, the City undertook work on public land in front of property owned by Councillor Cynthia Day. A section of laurel hedge and a portion of a rock wall were removed, leaving a lower retaining wall in place. No trees are being removed. Councillor Day stood in the work area, creating an unsafe situation. When members of the West Shore RCMP asked her to move, she declined. RCMP officers then assisted her out of the work site.
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 today's outcome.
The homeowners constructed an unpermitted rock wall and planted trees on public property in front of their home in 1995.
In 2003 after Cynthia Day was elected to Council, the Days obtained a temporary Highways Use Permit, which documented the unpermitted works, and allowed the homeowners to make some upgrades that were permitted but "subject to cancellation without notice" at the discretion of the City's head of Engineering.That temporary permit expired in 2004.
Fourteen years later in 2017, the City was advised that one of the trees planted on the slope in the public right of way had fallen onto the neighbouring home causing damage to the eves. This alerted the City to the fact that the slope was at risk of no longer being able to support the root systems of the large trees that had been planted on City property.
The safety of Colwood residents must be the City’s first priority. When the City becomes aware of a safety or liability issue on public property it is incumbent upon the municipality to address it. As a result, several trees were removed from City land adjacent to the Day's property in 2017.
The City has spent many hours over the past year and a half working with the homeowners toward a mutually agreeable solution, and provided them with an encroachment agreement that would allow all the remaining plantings and structures to stay in place, with the homeowners assuming all responsibility. The homeowners were given two opportunities to sign and return the encroachment agreement (January 31, 2018 and April 12, 2018). View the encroachment agreement.
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 today.
Mr. Day had presented to Council in a public meeting on June 12, 2017. Due to prior threats of legal action by the Days, Council was required to treat it as a legal matter, which must be discussed in camera, rather than in public meetings.
"The work that was undertaken today 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 November 26, 2018. My goal now is to put this issue behind us and move forward as a strong and united Council."