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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

B.C. Court resolves nasty neighbour dispute over Sunshine Coast vista

A recent Supreme Court of British Columbia action arose out of a dispute between adjacent landowners in a rural area outside of Comox, B.C.  The dispute culminated in the defendant, Susan Field, erecting a wall of earth topped by a row of large concrete blocks, along a southern portion of the boundary between their properties.  The plaintiffs, Robert and Kathryn Silcox, said that this contravened an agreement they had reached with the defendant in April 2006.  Under that agreement, the plaintiffs had acquiesced in the defendant’s purchase of a road allowance which abutted their properties at the north end.  In return, they said, the defendant had agreed to do a number of things, including preserving their view – what they call their “viewscape” – over the southern end of the defendant’s land, out over the Straits of Georgia.  That view has been blocked by the wall.

The plaintiffs therefore sought an injunction compelling the defendant to remove the concrete blocks, vegetation, and fill installed by her after April 29, 2006, and restraining the defendant permanently from interfering with the view as it existed on that date.

In the end, the Court did not grant the injunction.  This decision is worth a read to see what events led the judge to determine that Ms. Field was entitled to keep the wall in place:
... in my view, removal of the wall would deprive the defendant of what measure of peace and security it has provided her. In my judgment, the plaintiffs’ behaviour subsequent to April 2006, in particular the malicious and high-handed damage to the defendant’s plants, which must be viewed in the context of their generally confrontational approach to defendant, and their numerous demands and objections, should entitle the defendant to leave to wall in place and relieve her of any obligations which could arise in law or in equity respecting preservation of the plaintiffs’ view. In my judgment, leaving the wall as-is would lead to a more equitable result than forcing its removal.

Read the decision at: Silcox v. Field.