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The court case that taught one couple you can’t fight City Hall

Shuswap Lake isn't so idyllic anymore for a couple who lost a legal battle with the city over a lease agreement.
Image Credit: BC Parks
November 28, 2013 - 9:21 AM

SALMON ARM - A couple who refused to pay three years of rent for a campsite on Shuswap Lake belonging to the City of Salmon Arm has lost their battle.

“You cannot fight City Hall,” begins Supreme Court Justice Hope Hyslop in her written judgement on the dispute. “Sadly, the defendants... over the last three years, have come to realize this....”

It all started in 2010 when the city informed Jennifer and Herbert Stockwood (who, according to online directories, are from Alberta) that their lease agreement for a lot on the Canoe Campsite, in Salmon Arm, was going to change. The Stockwoods had been leasing the property since 2000, and enjoying the two-storey cabin purchased from the previous renters.

Upon expiry of their 2005-2010 lease, the city proposed increasing the rent to $4,710 in 2010, $4,945 in 2011, $5,195 in 2012, and $5,455 in 2013, increments based on the property value of the lots. The Stockwoods had paid $1,200 per year between 2001-05, then growing over the years to $4,950 in 2009.

Additionally, the city was moving from a five year lease to a three year, with little likelihood of a renewal because the land was being eyed as prospective parkland in accordance with the Official Community Plan.

The Stockwoods refused to sign the updated lease, citing issues with the calculation of the rent and the absence of a legal survey. Other lessees of the 28 Canoe Campsite lots “balked” at the new six page agreement, Hyslop said.  Together, some appointed a spokesperson to attend a city council meeting and plead their case, but the city wouldn’t budge.

In the end, all the lessors except the Stockwoods and one other renter, signed the new lease agreements. On Dec. 6, 2010, the city withdrew its offer and demanded the Stockwoods leave the lot—and remove their cabin—by Jan. 31 of 2011.

The Stockwoods have continued to seasonally occupy the campsite and have not removed their residence. Had they signed the new lease, they would owe $15,595.00 for rent in the years 2011, 2012 and 2013, and taxes for the years 2012 and 2013 of $1,632.22, as well as the $4,710.00 rent for 2010.

Hyslop ruled that the city is entitled to set the terms of the lease, even if they vary from years prior. The Stockwoods will be banned from the property starting May 31, 2014. In the interim, they can try to sell their cabin and recover some money before coming up with the $19,758 in unpaid rent and taxes they owe the city.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infotelnews.ca, call (250)309-5230 or tweet @charhelston.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013
InfoTel News Ltd

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