Petition to remove portion of CSRD Area B from building inspection service defeated

Area B director David Brooks-Hill, who brought forward the motion, says he will continue to explore ways to remove building inspections from the areas outside of the current Revelstoke fire protection zone.

Columbia Shuswap Regional District Electoral Area B director David Brooks-Hill campaigned solely on having building permits removed from the area. Photo: David Brooks-Hill/Facebook.

Signature election campaign issue for CSRD Area B director defeated by regional district directors

Dispute over who voted which way at the board table

Columbia-Shuswap Area B regional director David Brooks-Hill says he will continue to champion for removal of building inspections in the Columbia-Shuswap Regional District’s Electoral Area B. This is despite a recent board of directors vote defeating his request for board support to initiate a petition process to remove the section of Area B from building inspections.

The request was for the parts of the area not not in the Revelstoke fire protection zone.

Brooks-Hill campaigned solely on removing building inspections from the area. He argues that the building inspections were brought in despite negative feedback from Area B residents.

“It’s what motivated me to run,” Brooks-Hill said in an interview with the Mountaineer, noting that “it’s [ building inspection bylaw] legal, I just don’t like it.”

Building inspections were brought into Area B under previous director Loni Parker in early 2018. Brooks-Hill had put forward a motion during a July 18 CSRD board meeting, asking for support to remove building inspection service for areas outside the Revelstoke fire protection zone. The motion was defeated, but there is discrepancy between the votes recorded in the minutes and what Brooks-Hills claims the actual votes were. In am email to the Mountaineer, CSRD communications coordinator Tracy Hughes said the minutes recorded the vote 7-4 against, with directors Karen Cathcart, Rene Talbot, Terry Rysz and Brooks-Hill in favour. City of Revelstoke mayor Gary Sulz voted against Brooks-Hill’s initiative.

“This is what we have recorded but there appears to be some discrepancy, as we note director Brooks-Hill has stated the vote was 6-5. Regardless the outcome will not change,” said Hughes.

Brooks-Hill says he believes there was a misunderstanding among CSRD directors. He said he requested the issue be brought back to the table, however CSRD board chair Rhona Martin (only the chair can bring an issue back to the table once it has been voted on), declined to do so. While support from the CSRD board may not have been successful, Brooks-Hill said he is now planning to look into whether or not he can acquire voter information from the CSRD in order to mail out a petition on his own. He said the vote at the July 18 meeting was really about if the CSRD would support the petition.

CSRD Area B director David Brooks-Hill. Photo: Columbia Shuswap Regional District.

When questioned about why he is against building inspections in Area B, Brooks-Hill said he does not believe they are necessary or useful, adding they are also expensive. He said he might change his mind if Area B had a significantly larger population. A 2016 census population count shows 598 residents in all of Area B. Brooks-Hill also noted there are currently only two building inspectors for the entire CSRD, and said he has concerns over travel distance and time for building inspection staff to reach and ensure enforcement of rural areas such as Trout Lake.

“Even if people disagree about my feelings on building inspections, if we don’t have a decent level of service it’s not worth doing,” he said.

In a statement, the CSRD said staff note timelines for completing building permits in Area B are similar to those in other electoral areas, generally taking four weeks from when an application is received.

“Many local governments in B.C. provide building inspection to ensure that residential, commercial, industrial and public buildings meet the minimum construction standards set out in the BC Building Code. While all buildings are required to be constructed to the BC Building Code, only buildings in areas with building inspection are subject to the level of oversight required to ensure the code is met and safety standards upheld,” said the statement.

Brooks-Hill says he will continue to explore what options are available to support his goal of removing building inspections in Area B.