By Lyonel Doherty
Continued non-compliance has forced the regional district to consider legal action against an Oliver business.
On Thursday, directors will vote to determine whether or not to proceed with an injunction against Oliver Rental Centre at 5693 Sawmill Road, where the owner has expanded the business to include a vehicle and trailer rental service.
The property is located within the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) and is in contravention of Area C’s zoning bylaw.
The property currently has a single detached dwelling, a shop and double garage with approximately 8,000 square metres of land under agricultural production.
Laura Miller, building and enforcement Services manager for the RDOS, noted the business relocated to Sawmill Road in April of 2018 despite being advised that the zoning would not allow its use. Eight months later the board resolved not to authorize the non-farm application to proceed to the Agricultural Land Commission.
Miller said the business was requested to cease operation and remove all equipment from the property within 30 days. But that didn’t happen.
Miller said reasonable efforts have been made to achieve voluntary compliance with the property owner (Raghvir Dhaliwal).
“The property owner continues to use the land in contravention of the bylaw despite receiving repeated notices to not do so.”
Miller noted that injunctive action will require an application to the BC Supreme Court. He added there is a cost to do this, and this cost can only partially be recovered from the property owner.
Area C director Rick Knodel said this situation cannot be ignored without being unfair to others who do comply with the bylaw.
“As this started before my time, I can only go by what I have been told: the owner was informed by the RDOS and others that this would be a problem.”
Knodel said the “trigger” was the ALC application for the vehicle rental.
“The ALC would not have passed that in any form.”
Dhaliwal’s agent Bill Ross previously suggested a temporary use permit, but acknowledged it is too late for that now.
“I think if the applicant had put an effort into cooperating with the RDOS as far as trying to maintain as much agricultural land as possible, it would have been different.”
In all honesty, Ross said the property owner has not tried to improve the situation.
Dhaliwal was emailed for comment, but no response was received.
He previously argued that he is trying to enhance the agricultural community by supplying farm rental equipment.
He also noted the property was not used for agricultural purposes before he bought it.
Dhaliwal said a previous business had been operating on the property without agricultural practices on it.
“We actually brought agriculture to the parcel, which didn’t exist prior to us being there.” (He cited the fact he maintains two acres of cherries and plenty of ground crops.)
The entrepreneur said the decision by the board could potentially shut his business down.