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Taxpayer dollars wasted as RDCK accountability flies south says director

By Timothy Schafer, The Nelson Daily

The regional district is wasting thousands of taxpayer dollars in an attempt to over legislate building permits on small structures in rural areas, says one regional district director.

Walter Popoff of Area H has been trying to convince the Regional District of Central Kootenay Building Department and the board of directors that there is no need for building permits and inspection on structures valued at under $6,000 in the rural areas.

He is contending the staff time and cost to the regional district government for each permit — and subsequent trip for inspection — far outweighs the monetary cost the RDCK receives in return, usually in the neighbourhood of $50.

Popoff tried to get a recommendation from the building inspection department to look at possibly making those types of buildings — a shed, a roof over a recreational vehicle, or an accessory building — exempt from building permitting and inspection.

A building permit for those types of building is worth between $50 to $100, said Popoff. However, the staff time it takes a building inspector to travel out and inspect such a structure far exceeds the money collected.

When building inspection services were introduced into the regional district the intent was to have building inspections pay for itself, said Popoff.

“But we’re at a point right now where we are taxing $450,000 for building inspection in our budget,” he said. “I’m not against building inspection for houses that are habitable … but these (accessory buildings) are of minimal value to the regional district.”

Building inspection is required for all buildings except for those constructed 100 square feet or smaller, as well as some greenhouses and certain farm buildings. The buildings in question would be storage buildings, chicken coops, sheds, and sheds over recreational vehicle — all buildings worth under $6,000.

“Most everyone that lives in the rural areas falls into that category,” he said.

Popoff had asked for some accountability in the building inspection department, requesting a referral at the board level for the building inspection department to come back with figures if, in fact, the regional district was losing money on inspections of the smaller structures.

He was overruled and it did not go any further. Any attempt at accountability was dismissed on the merit of following the BC Building Code.

“I’m all for following the BC Building Code. Most people do. But I don’t believe we should be the enforcer when we should work with the community and develop something that is reasonable and usable,” Popoff said.

The only avenue of appeal he has right now is he will keep bringing the issue of accountability up in his one director protest of building inspections. He also won’t be moving any recommendations for notice on title until the issue is resolved.

The intent of his recommendation is a two-fold thing, said Popoff, to help out people when they build small accessory buildings by exempting them from building inspection, and reducing costs for the regional district.