GREG WESSON is a tenant at Maple Pool Campsite

GREG WESSON is a tenant at Maple Pool Campsite

Courtenay campsite residents facing eviction living in limbo

Living in limbo is no way to live for Greg Wesson, a tenant at the Maple Pool Campsite in Courtenay.

Living in limbo is no way to live for Greg Wesson, a tenant at the Maple Pool Campsite, where questions about flooding and compliance with zoning bylaws have resulted in legal action by the City of Courtenay.

Wesson has delivered a statement for court proceedings that began in June and will resume in the fall. He is among 57 Maple Pool residents facing a possible eviction.

Wesson, 57, came to Maple Pool about seven years ago after he was badly injured in a motorcycle crash. He has mental issues, including agoraphobia, a fear of open spaces. Once a self-employed stone cutter, the former Hornby Island resident had lived in a tent before moving to Maple Pool, where he pays $500 a month for a trailer.

Wesson said the court case is causing anxiety in his neighbourhood.

“They would much rather know the outcome rather than being left in limbo,” said Wesson, who receives disability assistance. “For me, that’s the hardest place to be.”

He says living at Maple Pool has been a “good experience,” recalling the sense of community he felt when living on Hornby.

“When you put a small number of people together, that’s what you get, because everybody knows each other.”

The City initiated legal action in 2011 against campsite owners Dali and Jin Lin. Former city CAO Sandy Gray had said zoning prohibits the couple from housing people on the property, which sits in a floodplain and which flooded in 2009 and 2010.

“If the City were not to enforce their bylaw, I would not be surprised if there is a flood and someone were to be injured or there was a death, that it would be all over the papers,” City lawyer Alyssa Bradley said at a BC Supreme Court hearing in Nanaimo. “Why didn’t the City do something about it?”

Justice Robin Baird acknowledged the difficulty of the case and potential liability issues, but also noted Wesson’s only problem has been wet feet. He compared Maple Pool to Calgary, which has experienced a greater severity of flooding in recent times.

“Now that’s a river, and that’s a flood,” Baird stated, adding the Tsolum River “isn’t the Mighty Bow.”

Comox Valley Emergency Program co-ordinator Mike Fournier recalls sending search and rescue personnel to retrieve four propane tanks that washed away from Maple Pool into the river during a previous flood.

Of two types of floods, he said water that rises is not as dangerous as current. When the river goes over a bank, he added, it takes a shortcut across Maple Pool, about one-third of which is under current.

“If the current is strong enough, it actually swipes things away like propane tanks, trailers or people if they happen to fall in the water,” Fournier said, noting the expense of evacuating people who need to be fed, clothed and housed.

The Province has twice provided Disaster Financial Assistance for Maple Pool. It is now called Emergency Management B.C.

“EMBC has told me that three strikes and you’re out,” Fournier said. “That means they will evacuate people one more time and pay. After that there will be no funds. The last time the bill was around $35,000.”

Fournier, who wrote an emergency plan for Maple Pool, said measures can be taken to stop or deflect the current of the river.

“There are some trailers in the path of that current,” he said. “We need to be safe at least.”

Last fall, Courtenay City Council established a working committee to liaise with the Lins and their lawyers on use of the land. The idea was to come up with solutions and options to raise the land to conform with set flood levels and construction elevations. Several people have offered to provide machinery, materials and labour to support the necessary rezoning.

City CAO David Allen and staff met last week with three people interested in finding options for a solution to the situation.

While flooding has not been severe, Allen is concerned about seeing a greater number of severe weather events.

“While we’re for now pursuing the legal remedy, we also have a clear understanding that this is a human issue, and people’s livelihoods and living spaces are impacted,” Allen said. “I think there’s this concern that the big bad corporation of Courtenay is to deal with an issue in a heavy-handed way. That’s not the case. There are liability issues and there’s concerns about putting taxpayers on the hook if something should happen.”

reporter@comoxvalleyrecord.com

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 25-May 1. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 case counts continue to trend down

Fewer than 200 active cases on the Island, down from highs of 500-plus earlier this spring

Cumberland is hoping for its lab at the Cumberland Health Centre to re-open. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Cumberland hopeful for lab re-opening

“People in Cumberland are getting a little bit left behind with the loss of that lab.”

Ramona Johnson at the I-Hos Gallery. Photo by Ali Roddam/Black Press
Community rallying to support I-Hos Gallery manager

Ramona Johnson has recently been diagnosed with cancer for the second time

Brian Chow, a medical first responder for the Comox Valley division of St. John Ambulance for over six years, is one of the volunteers giving time at the COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Comox. Photo supplied
Medical first responders volunteer at Comox vaccine clinic

St. John Ambulance Medical First Responder (MFR) volunteers are providing support and… Continue reading

A West Vancouver developer has applied to the City of Courtenay to construct a 39-unit strata development at 2650 Copperfield Rd. Scott Stanfield photo
Courtenay council gives second reading to contentious development proposal

At the May 3 meeting, Courtenay council approved second reading for a… Continue reading

Jay Valeri and Lyndsey Bell own Bigfoot Donuts in downtown Courtenay. File photo
Courtenay donut shop wins Small Business BC Award

Bigfoot Donuts has won the Premier’s People’s Choice category of the Small… Continue reading

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The following is a list of restaurants offering take-out and patio dining. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
List of Comox Valley restaurants offering take-out, patio dining options

Restaurants in the Comox Valley continue to adapt to government-imposed restrictions in… Continue reading

Jay Valeri and Lyndsey Bell own Bigfoot Donuts in downtown Courtenay. File photo
Courtenay donut shop wins Small Business BC Award

Bigfoot Donuts has won the Premier’s People’s Choice category of the Small… Continue reading

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C.’s first electric school bus making the rounds in Victoria suburbs

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Photo of suspected cat thief released by Victoria police actually just woman with her pet

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

Most Read