Work trucks and trailers cleared from the driveway at the Central Saanich property under investigation after courts ruled it breached several bylaws. (Morgan Cross photo)

Central Saanich man intends to continue fight for property improvements despite court ruling

The Supreme Court of BC ruled the property owner to have breached several bylaws

  • Jul. 28, 2017 6:00 a.m.

Morgan Cross / News staff

A Central Saanich man refuses to abandon property improvement plans after his case was taken to the Supreme Court of B.C. June 29 by the District of Central Saanich.

Central Saanich alleged the property owner had breached several Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) bylaws during his landscaping and construction process. These allegations were backed by the Supreme Court of B.C. in its recent judgment; however the property owner, Rajen Mahal, fully intends to continue the fight to finish building his tennis court, hot tub, pool, and nursery at any cost.

The District’s investigation into the property began in 2015 and continued thereafter, when it was reported by neighbours that work vehicles and trailers were parked and equipment stored on Mahal’s ALR-zoned land. He was also suspected of operating a small office without a business license. Central Saanich issued warnings in 2015 and 2016 and hired a private investigator to watch the property last summer.

Mahal, principal operator of a local landscaping company, argued to Central Saanich and more recently to the Supreme Court of B.C., that he has only worked with the intention to landscape the property for family use. As a full-time worker, Mahal maintained he had only a few hours in a day to work on his property, abiding by the Central Saanich bylaw that landscaping and construction be permitted until 7 p.m. Therefore, he said, he had reason to leave his work vehicles easily accessible on the property.

Central Saanich disagreed with Mahal’s position, however, referring to three other bylaws he appeared to breach by working without a permit past 2016: running a nursery office on his property without a business license, and; unlawfully parking work vehicles and storing materials on the property.

Mayor Ryan Windsor said that the District has different avenues when approaching property cases such as this. For the past year, the District chose to look into Mahal’s use of the property by hiring a private investigator. Making little progress negotiating with Mahal, Central Saanich filed a court application.

At the Supreme Court, Justice Steeves concluded Mahal had breached Bylaw 1309, which prohibits parking vehicles and storing materials. In that ruling, Steeves also judged Mahal had breached Bylaw 1884 by not obtaining a business license before his business – that being the nursery office – was up and running on the property. Though the bylaw requiring a permit to work on property was not concluded as breached, Mahal was nonetheless forced to remove the work vehicles from his property and vacate the nursery office.

Mahal insisted the full story was not understood during court proceedings. Originally, the property owner said he had attempted to obtain a permit from Central Saanich to build his nursery, only to be told by the District the nursery office had to be built first.

“They passed the permit for me to build my nursery office, but not my nursery,” Mahal said.

Because of this, he claims to have only followed the advice of the District by building and using the nursery office.

“It is a growing concern because I’m not the only one having bylaw issues,” he added.

Still, Justice Steeves maintained Mahal had breached several bylaws, as use of the office was not allowed in any permit issued to him. Provided a photograph of the nursery office space, Steeves said, “The office appears to be a busy one. It is more than a home office and it appears to be the office of an ongoing business.”

He also noted that the “large equipment in significant numbers” did not seem credible given Mahal was only building a swimming pool and installing drainage. Mahal argued he was adding a tennis court and hot tub in addition to the pool, and that the soil on his land would require plenty of care due to overfarming before it was fitting for nursery plants. The trucks and trailers on-site carried the necessary equipment and materials for property improvement.

Justice Steeves decided the equipment could not be stored on the property without a permit.

Though his plans have been stalled, Mahal intends to find a way to continue.

“We’re doing a landscaping job for personal uses and for the nursery,” he said. “I’m just trying to get my job done.”

Just Posted

Friends, family remember Dan Sealey, stepson of Minister of Agriculture, in private gathering

Lana Popham confirmed Sealey died of an accidental drug overdose earlier this month at age 23

High school graduation rates on the rise in Greater Victoria

High school completion up from 71 to 86.8 per cent over 10 years

Mommy’s Inside Voice: A little piece of you

Mommy’s Inside Voice is a biweekly column by Amie Jay, a local mother of three

Pacific Centre Family Services Association a winning design in Colwood

Victoria Real Estate Board winner a welcoming sight

Victoria curling foursome looks to defend provincial title

2019 BC Junior Curling Championships held in Vernon from Dec. 27, 2018 to Jan. 1, 2019

Unique technology gives children with special needs more independent play

UVic’s CanAssist refined seven prototypes aided by $1.5M government contribution

Greater Victoria holiday craft fair roundup for Nov. 16 to 18

Check off all of the items on your shopping list at these great events

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 14

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

High-end B.C. house prices dropping, but no relief at lower levels

But experts say home ownership remains out of reach for many for middle- and lower-income families

Worker killed in collision at B.C. coal mine

Vehicle collision occurred at approximately 10:45 a.m. this morning

B.C. asking for tips on ‘dirty money’ in horse racing, real estate, luxury cars

Action follows a Peter German report on money laundering in B.C. casinos

Canadian dead more than a week after plane crash in Guyana: Global Affairs

Global Affairs said it couldn’t provide further details on the identity of the Canadian citizen

Children between 6 and 9 eligible for $1,200 RESP grant from province

BC Ministry of Education is reminding residents to apply before the deadline

Privacy concerns over credit card use for legal online pot purchases

Worries follow privacy breaches at some Canadian cannabis retailers

Most Read