Brackett Springs hits new snag

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The long-suffering Brackett Springs affordable housing project on Rainbow Road has had another indication of trouble, with notice placed on title regarding building bylaw infractions.

The Capital Regional District’s Electoral Areas Committee approved a request from chief building inspector Robert Gutierrez to take action during a hearing held on July 10, following the expiration of multiple building permits and failure of property owner Salt Spring Land Bank Society to adequately respond.

A report from Gutierrez outlined the need to place notice on the land title for 584 Rainbow Road “to notify potential buyers of building deficiencies, the concerns of the CRD Building Inspector, and to reduce the liability of the CRD.”

“Due to work carried out prior to inspection, it may be necessary to have the notice remain on title in perpetuity, as complete inspection of the work may not be possible,” the report adds.

Land Bank Society representatives did not attend the hearing.

The society received Islands Trust approval for a multi-family project with up to 10 affordable rental dwellings in 2010. Housing was to be based on recycled houses and trailers that were donated by their previous owners and moved from other lots. None of the seven homes moved onto the property so far have been renovated to the point of occupancy.

According to the staff report, 20 building permits were issued on the property since June 15, 2010, all of which have expired. CRD Building Inspection staff have actively tried to secure compliance since January 2016. The EAC  denied a similar request for notice on title made by building inspection in 2017 to give the society and its founder Neddy Harris three months to come up with an action plan.

The action plan was not received. A building inspector site visit conducted in June 2019 revealed that one of the buildings appeared to be illegally occupied and most of the other buildings appeared derelict. It was also noted that more construction debris and garbage had accumulated since the previous site visit.

“To date, no further communication has been received from the owner nor have new building permit applications been received,” the July staff report states.

The 3.1-hectare (7.7-acre) property was listed for sale in October 2018 for $1.5 million, although the listing was not renewed when it expired after three months. Harris told the Driftwood at the time that mortgage holder Vancity had requested the property sale. The original funders/supporters to sign on to the project had also pulled out due to lack of progress. They include BC Housing, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and the CRD’s Regional Housing Trust Fund.

Harris told the Driftwood through email this week that she is putting together a plan to revitalize the project but was not ready to share that plan yet.

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