The Psalm 23 Transition Society has until next fall to get proper permits and clean up “outstanding infractions” on its property north of Clinton.
The Thompson-Nicola Regional District Board agreed last Thursday to give Psalm 23 executive director Marvin Declare until October 2023 to complete outstanding building permit applications and bring the existing buildings on the 4.7-hectare site up to BC Building Code. The initial deadline was the end of 2022 but was extended after Declare asked for more time.
“I’m here to comply, that’s not an issue on that,” Declare told the board last week, adding the delays in complying were partly caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and having to evacuate the property during the wildfires last year. “Part of our goal that we had set in plan for this year is to have all the siding completed on all of the building. We know there are going to be some other things.”
The society, which serves individuals suffering from addiction and homelessness, came under scrutiny after substantial development, construction, and redevelopment over the past decade without complete building permit applications and inspections.
TNRD staff raised concerns that members of the public are invited onto the property and reside temporarily in the buildings. The main building was constructed under permit in 1975 followed by three permits for additions and accessory building from 1982 to 1990. Since 2010, the owner has actively developed the property, without permits and inspections, according to a staff report.
“There are obvious, externally visible Code violations on the Property. Moreover, as an ‘institution’ (rather than say, simply residential use), the BC Building Code is more onerous in almost all respects,” a TNRD staff report indicated.
The board also agreed to defer a decision to slap a notice on the property title in accordance with s. 57 of the Community Charter by five months to allow Declare to renegotiate the terms of his mortgage. The notice would warn prospective purchasers, funders, and clients of outstanding infractions and reduce potential liability to the TNRD, according to a staff report.
According to Declare, there are never more than five men in the home at one time. Currently, there are three men in the program, he said.
Clinton Mayor Susan Swan urged the board to support both extensions noting it will take time to bring the buildings into compliance.
“Living in the area I know how difficult it is to get qualified tradespeople right now,” she said.
Ashcroft Mayor Barbara Roden agreed, saying said she had met Declare and believed he was an “honourable man” and would be true to his word. He likely needs more time, she said, to raise money for the work.
“They do a lot of very good work. They do a lot of charity work, delivering firewood to people in the area,” she said. “Funding is very hard for them to come by as it is for many small organizations. They are undoubtedly doing very good work but as is with charitable organizations in our community they do not have a lot of money.”
However, some directors raised concerns that any delay would increase liability to the TNRD.
“I would caution the board in terms of the exposure you could place the board under if something went wrong in the convening time for this type of use,” Kamloops Mayor Ken Christian said. “This could be a use that could lead itself to more damage to the facilities and I think it’s important that we would stick to our guns in compliance for the building code if nothing more for the health and safety exposures.”
Regina Sadilkova, TNRD’s Director of Development Service, said staff would support the extension “as long as they’re moving in the right direction instead of building more buildings without permits. I think we’ve caught their attention.”