No where to go

Dear Editor,

I write this op-ed as a victim of rogue administration, the ‘City Planning Department’ for Bashaw.

The Town of Bashaw falls in the ‘City’ of Central Alberta, which it is regulated by the zoning bylaws enacted by the City of Calgary! The ‘City’ has enacted a number of property regulations that require compliance in order to have a property in good legal standing with the municipality.

These bylaws contain numerous rules for residential properties which are against encroachment by property owners’ structures, including fences or other dividers that exist between adjoining lands or city properties.

Bylaw Number 9M2020 is one of the enacted bylaws of the City of Calgary and Alberta regarding encroachments into city-owned land, streets and easements.

It is common knowledge that fences frequently encroach into city property either into the rear lane, or across the front of the property. These bylaws therefore require that, a fence encroaching from 0-0.34m will require a consent letter which usually costs $50.

However, if the encroachment is over 0.34, it will require an encroachment agreement of a significantly higher price. This connotes that 0.3m is therefore the cutoff line for fences that encroach onto City roads.

Where the encroachment is less than the aforementioned, the City Planning Department is supposed to simply issue an encroachment Advisory Stamp along with the Certificate of Compliance without any waiting period.

The Town of Bashaw has subsequently enacted two bylaws with regard to construction policies. This is the Land Use Bylaw Number 780-2018 and the Bylaw to Regulate the Development and Use of Land and Buildings Number 675-2004. They provide that no sign, building, or parking stall may encroach over or onto a road unless the person responsible for the encroaching object has signed an encroachment agreement with the municipality, and where required by the municipality, maintains liability insurance of at least $1 million and naming the municipality as co-insured.

The bylaw further states that the section aforementioned shall however not apply to fascia signs encroaching less than 30 cm over a road.

The bylaws further provide that no fence shall be constructed that is located on public property unless for internal lots, no higher than 2.0 m for the portion of the fence that does not extend beyond the foremost portion of the principal building on the site and 1.0m for that portion of the fence that does extend beyond the foremost portion of the principal building on the lot.

The bylaws subsequently provides for development that do not require a development permit as the erection, construction, or maintenance, improvement or alteration of gates or fences or other means of enclosure less than 1.0 metres in height in front yards or in side yards abutting a road, and less than 2.0 metres in rear yards or in other side yards, and the maintenance, improvement and other alterations of any gates, fences or walls or other means of enclosure.

The bylaw has however not been followed in the Town Office in Bashaw when it comes to my application for encroachment.

Following the unappealing shape of the fence of our new house, I requested the town foreman, Patrick Taylor, if I could build new fence and encroach a little bit on city property, an encroachment within the length acceptable under the bylaws. Patrick saw I flagged where I was going to erect the new fence and assured me of getting permission from the town manager (Chief Admintrative Officer,“CAO”) Theresa Fuller.

He later informed me that he had secured the permission and gave me a go ahead with building of the fence, which I did.

For purposes of legal documentation, I requested for a consent letter by the ‘City’ Manager in accordance with Part II section 5(1). However, the same was not delivered. After waiting for two weeks, I decided to visit the office to inquire on the same.

On arrival, I got contradictory information to the one I had been assured and acting upon by Patrick Taylor and Fuller. They averred that I had not been given anything in writing confirming the encroachment application and that permission can only be given by town council.

I was also advice to halt building the fence until such permission is given. This was unfortunate as I had already built most of the fence and my supplies were already bought.

One of the council members, Brian Gus’ behaviour towards me was uncalled for as he was disrespectful during my whole presentation and the meeting was conducted in a very unprofessional way.

In the second meeting, chaired by Brian Gus, the council denied me audience and right to be heard. He purported that I had asked to encroach and he even got denied in the past. The mayor, Rob McDonald, even averred no one has ever been issued with an encroachment permit before.

It is imperative to consider the bylaws of this ‘City’ regarding denial of encroachment permit.

Under Part V of the Bylaws an Encroachment application may be denied by the Manager and can issue rejection letter if, in their opinion, the proposed or existing encroachment interferes with the safety of the public, the City or a utility provider, City’s ability to access, maintain and operate services on the City property or interest, a utility provider’s ability to access, maintain and operate its utility infrastructure on a City property or interest, the public’s ability to access City-owned land intended for public use, for its use and enjoyment; or is not in the best interests of the City or the citizens of Calgary.

In this case, however, none of the reasons placed under the law has been mentioned for the said rejection. They merely stated that no one has ever been allowed to encroach in the past. I believe that they acted either in furtherance of self-interest or discriminatory sense against my rights.

Additionally, the by-law requires that upon denial of an application, The Management must issue a letter indicating the reasons for declining the application. It is obvious none of this was done.

This denial, in my opinion, is simply malicious since the town will never develop the section encroached. It is also clear that the town does not know where the town property lines are and are getting them through the backs of its residents and as a result of the uncertainty; they requested for a Real Property Report (RPR) in order to ascertain the boundaries given by a surveyor.

The application has been denied despite the fact that it is within the legally acceptable encroachment parameters of 0.34 m and after payment of requisite fee, it should have been accepted. In my opinion, the town is marred by rapid cases of corruption and manipulations by a clique of unethical individuals.

If the management’s final decision after production of RPR is rejection, then they should have issued me with a notice of removal requiring me to remove the encroachment.

However, the current position is that they have breached the agreement and assurance given to me by Patrick Taylor, in his discharge of official duty, which had given me the permission to erect the fence, which I had already acquired the material and commenced on the construction.

At the very least, I am faced with irreparable damage if this decision is not rescinded. Further, they have also moved to cut down two mature trees in my property line under the pretext that they were on their line. This damage cannot be compensated monetarily.

The ‘City’ Planning department, under the stewardship of these rogue officials has subjected me to mockery, humiliation and mental anguish. I suspect that I am not the only victim of their harassment and threats. We need to confront this emboldened clique at all costs.

I reported the matter to the RCMP in regards to threats giving to me by ‘city’ employees, who have taken it up. This is just the beginning of pursuing accountability and slaying the dragon of racketeering.

We don’t know where to turn as any complaints go through Theresa Fuller the CAO of this town and she gets to police her self and misdirect council as she sees fit.

The majority of this town has had enough of this CAO Theresa Fuller’s tyranny but are afraid of the repercussions they might get. We are being held hostage.

Carlos Siguenza,
Resident of Bashaw, Alberta

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ECA Review