The tenants of an illegal four-plex in North Glenmore will get the boot after city councillors decided Monday against supporting the rural property owners' request for non-farm use.
The five partners who have rented out the four-plex, the principal residence and its suite at 355-357 Valley Rd. since 2004 stand to lose most of that income after investing $1 million in the purchase and improvements.
The five owners - Tony and Subhash Bajaj, Joginger Virdi, Suresh Khurana and Sunita Sood - say they bought the five-hectare farm specifically as a rental property.
In 1982, the previous owner received city permission to move a second dwelling there for an orchard manager and other farm help, said Todd Cashin, the city's manager of environment and land-use. Later that year, the owner received city permission to add a 720-square-foot suite in the main house for farm labourers.
However, in 1993, someone complained that the second building had been converted to a four-plex and rented out. Bylaw officers confirmed none of the tenants were farmworkers and the owner was forced to comply with the city's rules, said Cashin.
City staff learned in April 2012 that the second dwelling had again been converted from farmworker housing - a single dwelling with a suite - to a four-plex rented by non-farm workers. The principal residence was also not without problems when RCMP shut down an illegal marijuana grow op in mid-October. It is still unoccupied.
The five owners were given three options: rent the four-plex to farmworkers, decommission, remove or demolish it, or apply with city's council's support to the B.C. Agricultural Land Commission for non-farm use in the ALR.
"We were told it was grandfathered (by past use)," explained a spokesman for the partners. "We've spent a ton of money on this place making it livable."
The orchard was torn out, and they have been unable to find anyone to lease it and plant another orchard, ostensibly because it could be a frost pocket. So the fields have been leased and planted in hay, said the spokesman.
Coun. Luke Stack commented he was sympathetic to the owners' plight but "it's a clear cut case of the city's policy not being followed."
Councillors unanimously voted against supporting the application for non-farm use. Under a compliance agreement, the owners will pay a reduced fine of $250 (from $500), and must decommission or demolish the four-plex by June 14.
If it is decommissioned, it can only be used as an accessory building and not rented or