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B.C. condo owner fined $200 for having too many planters

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A B.C. strata that fined a condo owner $200 for having too many planters on their deck has been ordered to waive the fine.

The case involving a strata in New Westminster, which fined Thomas and Lelyzaveta Harris because they had eight planters on their deck.

The strata said that was an "unreasonable" number and broke its bylaw that stated only a "reasonable amount of plants and flowers are allowed on patios and other common areas."

The Harrises took the strata to the Civil Resolution Tribunal arguing they hadn't broken any bylaws, shouldn't have been fined, and that their patio had a "reasonable" number of planters on it.

According to an Aug. 31 Civil Resolution Tribunal decision, the Harrises argued that because the bylaw did not stipulate the number of planters a person could have on their patio, their two round planters and six rectangular planters were a "reasonable" number.

The Tribunal then looked at what was considered a "reasonable" amount.

The decision says the strata wrote the Harrises stipulating that plants held in containers must not exceed a total combined over-floor surface area of 440 square inches and not exceed a total combined volume of 5,280 cubic inches. The strata did not deny it sent the Harrises this information after it issued the $200 fine, and it did not send it to any other condo owners.

However, the Tribunal found that these measurements were worthless.

"Though the strata says that the amount of space taken up by the Harrises’ planters is unreasonable, it has provided no evidence of the planters’ measurements or how much volume they hold," the Tribunal ruled. "So, even if the appropriate parameters for determining reasonableness are those set out in the strata’s guidelines, the strata has failed to prove that the Harrises’ planters exceeded those guidelines."

READ MORE: B.C. strata spent $22,000 on lawyers, loses case over inflatable hot tub

The Tribunal then looked at photographic evidence to decide whether the number of planters was "unreasonable."

"The photographs show that the Harrises have eight planters in total. Though I agree with the strata that the photographs in evidence show the Harrises have more planters on (their patio) area than other strata lots do, I do not find this means the eights planters are unreasonable," the Tribunal ruled. "Based on the photographs, the eight planters do not appear to be a hindrance for others or take up space in front of other strata lots.

"I find the number of planters to be reasonable and in compliance with (the) bylaw," the Tribunal ruled.

Ultimately, the Tribunal ordered the strata to refund the $200 fine it had charged the Harrises for having an "unreasonable" amount of planters.

READ MORE: Carport or pergola? B.C. couple win legal fight with strata

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