Egg-throwing, scooter tampering, prankcalls: Seniors’ condo battle worse than a reality TV show
By Glenda Lenda—The Province
26 May 2014

A legal battle at the Carlisle condo complex on George Ferguson Way in Abbotsford included allegations of egg-throwing, scooter-tampering, prank phone calls, a hallway brawl and an extra-marital affair.
Photograph by: Ric Ernst, PROVINCE


The court documents read like the plot of an irresistible reality TV show — about senior citizens.

The drama that has unfolded at Abbotsford’s Carlisle condominium complex during the last four years involves allegations of egg-throwing, scooter-tampering and prank phone calls (not to mention a hallway brawl and an alleged extra-marital affair).

At one point the dispute became so out of hand, a B.C. provincial court judge who was asked to rule on three civil lawsuits said he expected to find “emotional children who have not yet learned the basic tenets of acting civilly towards each other, not senior citizens.”

Bad behaviour notwithstanding, the judge allowed the claims to proceed because he was “unable to conclude” they would fail.

In the Carlisle dispute, all litigation was between a husband-and-wife couple and several members of the Carlisle’s strata council.

In court documents, the 77-year-old strata president claimed the couple removed the door knobs from the complex’s exercise room, drove into the parking garage gates and sprayed oil on car windshields, among other acts of vandalism.

In response, the wife claimed someone spray-painted the words “Rat,” “Pig” and “Cow” on her car in one of several small dramas to take place in the Carlisle’s parking garage. The wife also said a council member shot a flare at her car as she drove away, while another resident hid under a blanket in the back seat of a car to take surveillance photos of her (the man was discovered when his camera flash went off).

The wife accused the strata president of threatening her by making “a slashing motion across his throat” when he passed her in the hallway. She also claimed she was assaulted by another council member, dislocating her thumb in the scuffle, as another senior looked on and called “She is not tamed yet. More!”

The documents contain much more, including allegations of an extra-marital affair between two seniors, the details of which were described in a salacious note left on the door of an apartment.

The entire affair caused the judge to call the situation “so bizarre that it is difficult to believe that it is happening in real life rather than in a fictional story.”

But despite his apparent misgivings, he allowed it to move forward in civil court, where it continued to generate paperwork and a fascinating plot up until a few months ago, when it was finally dismissed.

The Carlisle case is among hundreds of disputes involving condo owners wending their way through the B.C. court system.

With recent Statistics Canada research showing that one in eight Canadians call a condo home — with significantly higher numbers in cities such as Vancouver — experts predict conflicts between neighbours will only increase in the future.

Two years ago, the B.C. Ministry of Justice announced plans for Canada’s first-ever civil resolutions tribunal, which would provide an online dispute resolution system to handle strata and small civil claims outside court.

Originally expected to be in place by 2013-14, the launch is now set for the spring of 2015.

Meanwhile, crazy condo disputes continue to make headlines.

Two weeks ago, a B.C. Supreme Court Justice ended a six-year court battle over parking at a Port Coquitlam condo by ordering the couple involved to vacate their apartment (and their parking spot).

In a precedent-setting case late last year, a Surrey woman and her son were found in contempt of court and ordered to sell their condo after years of complaints and unpaid strata fines. In less than a year, the family was the subject of more than 24 complaints, mainly about noise.

In the Surrey case, eviction was “the end of the line” after years of costly litigation, said Vancouver property lawyer Peter Roberts, who predicted “we’ll see more of these cases coming down the pipe” as more people move into condos.

Tony Gioventu, executive director of the Condominium Home Owners’ Association of B.C., said there are about 28,000 strata corporations in B.C., representing about 800,000 units. Many new buyers are coming from single-family homes and simply aren’t prepared for living in closer proximity to neighbours — “you have to get used to the idea that your home is not your castle,” he said.

Vancouver strata lawyer Patrick Williams, who has represented Abbotsford’s Carlisle strata corporation in the past, said B.C.’s new civil resolution tribunal will dramatically change how disputes are handled, removing them from an “adversarial” court system and putting the emphasis on mediated solutions.

But it’s likely cases will continue to end up in court when people refuse to abide by the tribunal’s rulings.

gluymes@theprovince.com

Top Condo conflicts
People:
Lawyer Patrick Williams recalled a case that racked up $150,000-worth of legal fees in a 16-day arbitration after a condo resident insisted on spreading bird seed on his balcony, resulting in the side of the building being covered in bird droppings.

Parking:
Two weeks ago, a six-year court battle over a parking spot ended with the eviction of a couple from their Port Coquitlam condo. Cheng-Fu Bea and his wife, Huei-Chi Yang Bea, did not agree with their strata’s decision to assign specific parking spaces to units and launched a court battle that went on to include 50 appearances before 28 different judges in dozens of courts.

Pets:
A Kitsilano strata recently went to court to force the owners of a “little white dog” to remove the pet from their residence and pay $1,900 in fees.

Prostitution:
CHOA’s Tony Gioventu pointed to a situation where an escort service bought an entire floor of a B.C. apartment building, much to the dismay of fellow residents.

Pot:
From growing it to smoking it, pot has long been a seed of contention among neighbours in close quarters.

Copyright (c) The Province

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A feud between residents at this B.C. seniors condo is ‘so bizarre’ even a judge had a hard time believing it was real
Joe O'Connor —National Post
May 27, 2014

Harwant Brar is a veteran realtor in Abbotsford, B.C., specializing in condominiums. One development that he has kept tabs on, over the years, but has yet to have an opportunity to buy into, is The Carlisle at 33030 George Ferguson Way.

It is a newer build. It is central. It has an exercise room, a workshop, a recreation room and a guest suite and, critically, for the discerning shoppers who do buy in, no screaming children running around the hallways because the condo has a 55-and-over age restriction. And also no pets, plus all the amenities. A two-bedroom unit with two bathrooms typically sells for $130,000, a sum that, in the Lower Mainland, is exceedingly reasonable.

“I view buildings day in and day out,” Mr. Brar says. “To be honest, I had always considered The Carlisle to be one of the nicer buildings on the market.”

Only now, he is not so sure what to make of the place since, beneath the promises of a kid free culture with the 55-and-over crowd there lies a fundamental truth familiar to every home owner, and that is: You can pick your furniture, but you can’t pick your neighbours. And at The Carlisle, being a good neighbour was never an issue or, at least, never a legal issue until four years ago. Until a new couple, an older man married to a younger woman, joined the condo community and soon thereafter set off — according to documents filed in B.C. Provincial Court — an ongoing feud between residents that one provincial judge has described as being “so bizarre that it is difficult to believe that it is happening in real life, rather than in a fictional story.”

‘It could be something that’s blown out of proportion. “But it is also possible that it is a completely crazy place’

How bizarre? Try: The Strata Council at The Carlisle (a.k.a. the building management) attempted to evict the couple, claiming in court filings that they were responsible for 16 acts of vandalism and 19 acts of harassment at the complex. Among the juicier accusations: egging cars; breaking chairs in the recreation room; opening and closing the parking garage gates in the middle of the night to disturb residents; punching holes in walls and authoring “lurid” notes full of carnal details relating to an alleged affair involving, yes sir, the male owner of a certain unit and a female resident on the floor above.

Provincial court judge Robert Hamilton, citing the sensational details of the civil case, said this of the parties involved: “One would expect to find emotional children who have not yet learned the basic tenets of acting civilly towards each other, not senior citizens.”

The besieged couple, if they are besieged and not, in fact, the aggressors some claim them to be, have initiated, by my best count, 12 lawsuits related to the fracas. The wife of the pair alleges that she has been shot at by a flare gun, called “a god damn squaw” (she is part First Nations), had her scooter tampered with and received a note, slid beneath the door — on Christmas Eve 2010 — referencing a website on how to commit suicide.

According to a neighbour down the hall — the only resident at The Carlisle who agreed to speak with me, and only on condition of anonymity — the couple still owns the unit, but no longer reside there.

“What has happened here is bizarre, bizarre,” the neighbour said. “And it is still happening.”

‘One would expect to find emotional children who have not yet learned the basic tenets of acting civilly towards each other, not senior citizens’.
As reporter Glenda Luymes described it in The Province newspaper: ‘‘In court documents, the 77-year-old strata president claimed the couple removed the door knobs from the complex’s exercise room, drove into the parking garage gates and sprayed oil on car windshields, among other acts of vandalism.

‘‘In response, the wife claimed someone spray-painted the words ‘Rat,’ ‘Pig’ and ‘Cow’ on her car in one of several small dramas to take place in the Carlisle’s parking garage. The wife also said a council member shot a flare at her car as she drove away, while another resident hid under a blanket in the back seat of a car to take surveillance photos of her (the man was discovered when his camera flash went off).

‘‘The wife accused the strata president of threatening her by making ‘a slashing motion across his throat’ when he passed her in the hallway. She also claimed she was assaulted by another council member, dislocating her thumb in the scuffle, as another senior looked on and called ‘She is not tamed yet. More!’’’

The couple and the 11 neighbours they are currently suing are scheduled to meet in the Chilliwack Law Courts for a “Case Planning Conference” on Nov. 3. We wish all the parties involved good luck.

“If I had a client that called me today and said I want to live at The Carlisle my first impression would be, ‘OK, let’s investigate. Let’s try and learn the reality of the place,’” Mr. Brar says.

“When I heard about what has been going on there I thought, well, it could be something that’s blown out of proportion.

“But it is also possible that it is a completely crazy place.”

National Post

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Kitsilano strata asks court to force owners of ‘little white dog’ to remove pet from suite and pay $1,900 in fines
By Keith Fraser, The Province
APRIL 16, 2014

VANCOUVER — A Kitsilano strata is going to court to force the owners of a “little white dog” to remove the pet from their residence and to pay up $1,900 in fines levied.

The petition filed by Strata Plan VR839, owners of a residential condominium complex at 2370 West 2nd Ave., says a written complaint about the dog was first received by the agent for the strata corporation in September 2013.

Samuel Adam Korbin, the owner of the suite, confirmed to the strata that the pet dog belonged to his wife, Kari Orr, who remains in the suite following their marriage separation, according to the petition.

The strata, which has had a pet prohibition bylaw since 1985, issued instructions to the agent to write to Korbin advising him to respond immediately if he disagreed with the complaint, it says.

“On Nov. 14, 2013, Korbin emailed a response to the October 21 letter wherein he advised that he and his wife were working on an alternative living arrangement for the pet dog,” says the petition.

“The email also advised that the situation with the pet dog would be resolved shortly depending on the cooperation of the parties involved.”

Several weeks later Korbin was reminded of the strata council’s position, warned that a one-time bylaw infraction fine of $100 would be imposed against his account, and told that he was to remove the dog immediately.

In February, Korbin was warned again after the dog was seen in the building and overheard barking several times over the course of a number of days.

The petition says that in March, Korbin advised the strata that the issue with the dog had been resolved and that the “tenant” would be vacating the premises on March 21.

But nothing came of it and Korbin has not complied with the demand for removal of the dog, says the court document.

Korbin and Orr could not be reached.

Tony Gioventu, executive director of the Condominium Home Owners Association of B.C., said it was “very difficult” to say how many fines levied by strata councils go unpaid.

He said it depends on how proactive the strata corporation is, but added that as of last year, stratas need to wait only two years, as opposed to six years, to go after someone for unpaid fines.

“They’re doing it probably to protect the fines that they’ve levied and also probably to bring this matter to a head to enforce the bylaw,” he said of the Korbin lawsuit. “But $1,900 regarding a pet is pretty common. It’s nothing exceptional.”

Gioventu said the bylaw fines are not considered a secured debt like strata fees or special levies, so they don’t take any priority in the court registry and the strata corporation cannot issue a lien against the strata lot to secure the debt.

“If the strata corporation gets a judgment, the judgment is then registered against the strata lot. The success rate at collecting the fines is very good at that point.”


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