Tear Down this Retaining Wall

Authority Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure

Garth lived on a narrow, dead end road with a steep drop off making it difficult and unsafe for him to turn around larger vehicles. Garth’s road ended at a berm that separated Garth’s road from the dead end of his neighbour’s narrow road. Garth had a permit from the ministry to build a proper turnaround on the ministry’s right-of-way at the end of his road. Garth set to work, believing he could also extend a retaining wall marking his own property.

Although the permit issued to Garth was somewhat vague, it did not include authorization for a wall to be constructed on the right of way. The ministry believed the wall created a hazard for drivers unfamiliar with the road. Consequently, some time after the wall was constructed, the ministry intervened and told Garth to tear his new wall down.

Garth’s wall was part of his plan from day one. After paying for the construction of the wall, paying for the demolition of it only made matters worse. Refusing to take the wall down, Garth came to us.

We investigated and it appeared that there had indeed been miscommunication between Garth and the ministry about the extent of the permit to build the turnaround. Although no wall was mentioned in the paperwork, the ministry did tell Garth he should keep similar pre-existing works in front of his property. Furthermore, despite being aware of Garth’s plans, the ministry never asked Garth to stop during or before construction. Given the cracks in communication – and the strength of the wall – we suggested a compromise. If the ministry thought the wall was a hazard, they could pay to take it down. This wasn’t Garth’s preferred outcome, but he was satisfied that the ministry had agreed to pay for the cost of the demolition of the wall and agreed to preserve the materials so they could be re-used. Garth thanked us for our work.

Category Housing and Property
Type Case Summary
Fiscal Year 2015
Location Vancouver Island / Sunshine Coast