Condo Owner Asks Council To Turn Down A Light
And the Condo Board said, let there be light, and there was light.
The questions to Council though was it too bright? And if so, could the City do anything about it?
Kathi Hagman, who lives in the Alpine Two Condominiums, came to Council with her concerns regarding a new upgraded LED light the Condo Board installed to illuminate not only a doorway but the parking lot of the facility.
According to Hagman she has tried unsuccessfully to rectify what she describes as a nuisance without any results from the Board.
“It's so bright I was concerned there was going ti be a plane landing on parking lot,” she said.
Hagman said she had tried to have the situation rectified with the Board after they installed a new brighter and larger LED light above an entry door with no success. She had suggested to install a shield to prevent the light from illuminating her condo without any success.
“No communication with them is going to fix this problem.”
Frustrated by her inability to resolve the problem with the Board she turned to the City's Bylaw Enforcement Office as she felt under Part 12 of Bylaw #5484 – The Property Maintenance and Nuisance Bylaw.
Under that section no property owner is allowed to install a light which shines directly into the living or sleeping quarters of another property.
Armed with the Bylaw Hagman requested Bylaw Enforcement to enforce the rules.
Council heard it was to no avail because in the end the Bylaw Officer and Administration had concluded her Condo and the shared portion of common condominium property were one property.
“(Because it was) not a separate property or lot it becomes a civil matter…if it is a civil matter I am swiped into it as a whole,” she said.
Hagman felt this was wrong because as the condo owner she paid property taxes to the City as well and the condominium corporation for all common property.
She said if true then she could break such things as the noise bylaw without worrying about being ticketed as the property owner. The condominium corporation would be ticketed and then have to come after her as it was a civil matter.
Hagman said she did not attend a meeting with the condo board due to what she claimed as problems.
“There is so much discord in our condo association some of our board only speak (if they have to).”
Hagman said she tried to get relief and answers from the bylaw officer and Administration to no avail for “a light you could see from NASA.”
“Not enforcing the Bylaw makes no sense to me.”
Hagman expressed concerns the Bylaw Officer did not come and inspect the situation after dark but had attended in the daylight hours nor had come inside her home limiting the ability to see the problems she alleged the light was causing.
She did say a letter went out to the condo corporation from the City but it quoted a different bylaw.
The condo association had responded to Hagman by email in a way she typified as inappropriate.
“I got an email from my condo board saying ‘Ha ha we got the (City's) email or something like that,’” she claimed.
Out of what she felt was frustration of no response from the City she spoke to Mayor Fraser Tommie about the situation.
“Except for the Mayor nobody consulted with me”
City manager Jim Puffalt said he had personally driven by and seen the light which he described as a “very, very bright” light.
A letter had gone out to the condo association from the City but their Board had responded there was nothing which could be done to rectify the situation.
Director of Planning Michelle Sanson said the problem why the City was unable to bring the property into compliance was the wording of the Bylaw and how the department had determined it was one and not two properties.
Council had earlier been informed earlier this was the first time a situation like this had ever occurred.
Councillor Scott McMann said the light was a nuisance and unacceptable.
“ I think she has a case there. Somehow if I was living there I would get a pellet gun.”
Councillor McMann felt the Bylaw's intent was to cover this type of situation but due to wording of the Bylaw it was not being enforced. He asked what was the hope of writing the condo board if it was not the City's responsibility to get compliance to the Bylaw.
‘The intent is there it is not going to be injurious to others. People I am not comfortable the way it is in this legalese.”
Councillor Dawn Luhning said she had driven by the property and agreed with the condo owner.
“I think we should act under the Bylaw and write the Condo Board a ticket,” Councillor Luhning stated.
Councillor Brian Swanson said the fact Hagman receives a separate tax notice should indicate two separate properties.
Her property is not the property with the light on it but the property with the light shining on it as there were two separate tax notices, Councillor Swanson stated.
He went on to state if Council saw it as one property Hagman could come back and argue against a proposed infrastructure levy which, if approved, would place a flat tax on every property.
Mayor Tolmie said although there was an indication the condo association had tried to rectify the problem there was no proof of that and they needed to comply with the City's bylaws.
“We have to have the wisdom of Solomon this is not about punishing the condo association.”
Sanson said there would not be any tickets issued but the City would be looking for compliance and rectify the alleged lighting infraction.”
Councillor Chris Warren said “hopefully common sense will prevail…I have seen in my other life people have put shrouds around or other (things around lights).”
In a unanimous 7 – 0 vote Council decided to issue a letter of non-compliance to the condominium corporation. Under the rules the corporation has the right. If they chose, to appeal and tell their side of the story.