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West Vancouver townhouse owners sue district over halted renos

Last Updated Nov 23, 2020 at 12:18 pm PST

The District of West Vancouver issued a stop work order to the owners of a townhome in the West Royal Towers complex. (Courtesy Google Maps)

District of West Vancouver issued stop work order over concerns about structural integrity

Holes in concrete were not allowed, strata corporation claims

Renovation plans included modification of floor, couple says

WEST VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – A couple is taking the District of West Vancouver to court after the municipality ordered them to stop renovating their townhouse.

Philip and Raven Garrow filed a petition in B.C. Supreme Court in October, asking a judge to quash a stop-work order issued in April.

But the district claims the couple cut three holes into the townhouse’s concrete-slab floor without permission and severed embedded cables.

The cut cables did not cause “immediate safety concerns” but “compromised the integrity of the structure,” the district claims in its response to the Garrows’ petition.

The Garrows say they received a building permit from the district in April, which allowed them to go ahead with their plans to renovate the kitchen, bathrooms and closets in the townhouse in the West Royal Towers complex on Taylor Way.

Plans submitted to the district and the strata corporation “clearly illustrate the contemplated alterations” and noted that a structural engineer required to review new openings in reinforced slab,” the Garrows claim.

Soon after work got underway, they claim, the strata complained to the district, which issued the stop-work order “precipitously,” without giving the couple an opportunity to respond.

The Garrows claim all work on their townhouse was done in compliance with the district’s bylaws and seeks to have the stop-work order thrown out.

The couple says their property remains uninhabitable due to the construction work but they continue to pay a mortgage, utilities and strata fees.

The district, however, says the Garrows’ building-permit application included a letter from the strata corporation warning against any modification of the concrete floor.

“Damaging the structural cables embedded in the concrete slabs can cause potential catastrophic structural results. Use of any powered or automatic tools, whether pneumatic or not, for removal of tiles is prohibited,” the letter said, according to the district.

The response also says a building permit’s validity is contingent on the strata’s continued support.

In May, the district suspended and cancelled the business licences for two companies managed by Philip Garrow: ADC Projects and ADC Holdings “due to findings of repeated and serious issues with work being undertaken without permits, contrary to explicitly stop work orders, and the creation of safety hazards,” according to court documents.

None of the allegations have been tested in court. A hearing has yet to be scheduled.

A District of West Vancouver spokesperson said she couldn’t comment on ongoing court cases.

The Garrows’ lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.