A new member of Ucluelet’s Bay Street neighbourhood hasn’t made a great first impression.
Black Rock Resort purchased an empty lot across from Edna Batchelor Park and began construction on a new single family residence last year, but the neighbours on both sides are angry over how long a large hole has been around after construction was delayed by terrain.
“They’ve dug so deeply and it’s turned into a huge pool. I’m worried about my foundation. My house has started to slip a little bit because it’s only maybe five to six feet away from where the pool begins,” said property neighbour Wade Appenheimer during last week’s council meeting.
“I know my house has shifted a tiny, little bit because I can tell the doors just don’t go the way that they used to.”
The property’s other neighbour, Josh Hannigan, also spoke during the meeting and said the hole extends over his property line and has sat dormant, filling with water, for roughly seven months, creating a hazard in the residential area.
“To me, it’s shocking that a corporation could come in, buy a private piece of property between two family homes and leave it in that state,” he said. “It’s a bloody mess.”
Coun. Sally Mole suggested the issue is a civil one and doubted council could do anything about it.
District CAO Andrew Yeates agreed but added Ucluelet’s Planner 1 John Towgood and Superintendent of Public Works Warren Cannon could talk to Black Rock this week to try to speed up construction.
“Certainly part of it would be a civil manner. If somebody does construction next to you and damages your house, there’s certainly a civil case,” Yeates said.
“They [Black Rock] ran into some soil issues there as well. They hit a clay that you can’t build on and needs to be removed that’s caused some problems. I don’t know what are causing all the other delays. We did ask them to fence up the hole as best they could for the protection of children and whatnot.”
Coun. Randy Oliwa expressed disappointment at how Black Rock has handled the development.
“They’re not starting out on a great foot to be a great neighbour,” he said suggesting the company’s excavation permit for the site likely has a time limit.
“There’s definitely checks and balances in there that progress needs to be made on this.”
Hannigan said he hoped to avoid any civil action and urged the district to help find an alternative solution.
“It’s very unneighbourly that they would do this in the first instance, but I’m hoping that there’s some kind of pressure that can come from this council and staff to make sure that they understand if there is any timelines that they conform to those and they expedite this building,” he said. “Right now, it’s a hole in the middle of the neighbourhood between two family homes.”
Hannigan also expressed concern over whether Black Rock plans to use the eventual residence for staff housing despite the area’s residential zoning.
“It’s not, by any measure, designed for that kind of density,” he said.“Having managed a resort myself, there are a lot of problems that come with the terrain of staff housing: parking, over density issues, all kinds of issues with noise and so forth, animal attractants when they don’t properly take care of the property.”
Speaking to the Westerly News prior to the meeting, Ucluelet’s Planner 1 John Towgood said Black Rock would not be permitted to rent rooms out individually for staff housing.
“They cannot be renting rooms. I was very clear with them and they went ahead under that premise,” Towgood said. “My expectation is that they’re going to rent it to somebody on the top floor and then they’re going to rent a [bottom floor] suite out to somebody and that’s completely allowable in a residential neighbourhood.”
The Westerly News was unable to reach Black Rock for comment by presstime.