Squamish is currently going through a classic case illustrating how government can really mess with the lives of some people.
The dispute over Dave and Tamara Maxim's cabin is the case in point. The Maxims started construction of a cabin in their front yard at the end of Finch Drive back in 1999. More than three years after the start of construction, a great deal has happened; however, the cabin sits only partially complete.
Soon after construction started the Maxims found themselves in a dispute with the District of Squamish (DOS) and some of the residents in the Loggers Lane area.
The Maxim property is on the hillside and it looks over the rest of the neighbourhood.The Maxim cabin is going to be an art studio and they indicated that in the documentation they put together for the proposal. I saw the documentation last year and it is apparent to me that the Maxims were trying to do things properly.
Barrie Neilson, Squamish's former building inspector, issued a building permit on Sept. 24. 1999 and that gave the Maxim's the green light to start work.
On Oct. 5, 1999 Squamish's new building inspector, Chris Farquhar, paid a visit to the work site and concluded that the building was too tall so he issued a stop work order.
There are many issues related to this cabin; however, each goes back to the ruling by Farquhar that the structure was too tall.
Two building inspectors looked at the situation and two different conclusions were made. One inspector saw no issues and the other saw an infraction significant enough to demand a halt to the work.
The Maxims had a dilemma. Stop work, leave the structure open to the destructive forces of nature, and cancel the materials and contractors standing by for the next phases of the project, or press ahead to the point of putting on the roof and sealing the wood.
The Maxims chose to press ahead and stopped work once the structure was protected from the elements.
The most important mistake made in this case was made by the district. Municipal Hall needs to take responsibility for it and work things out.
The mayor ordered the Maxims and his neighbours to work things out. While the neighbours are at odds the dispute between neighbours is secondary to the contradictory way the district handled this issue in the very beginning.
Turning this sticky situation into a win-win won't happen. This is going to end in a lose-lose or win big-lose big.
If there's a lawsuit, every taxpayer in Squamish will be dragged into it all because two different building inspectors made two separate rulings on a quaint cabin on the hillside.