The owner of a property on Laxton Avenue has been fined $3,000 for conducting business without proper district permits and zoning.
Steve Kaldis was issued three violation tickets last week – $1,000 apiece – for each day the district believes a special events business was operating on the five-acre property, which is in the Agricultural Land Reserve.
Mission council has also authorized staff to take any action necessary, including a court injunction, to stop the illegal activity.
Mission Mayor Ted Adlem said he personally saw one of the events when he drove to the area over the August long weekend.
“I got a heads-up call from someone that lives up there,” said Adlem. “There are a lot of very annoyed people who live there. One thing led to another and I suggested we need to enact the nuisance bylaw. Then, the decision was made to also give staff the ability to go to court to get the issue resolved.”
Kaldis was using the property as a wedding and special events venue called Mountain Falls Retreat last year when the business caught the attention of the district.
The property only had a permit to operate a bed and breakfast and a commercial kitchen, but the owner made changes and added structures without permits and the appropriate zoning, according to the district.
Last spring, the district put a stop to the expansion plans and business, and by the time a rezoning application was submitted, council had already had enough.
“This is a good business concept done completely the wrong way,” said Coun. Jenny Stevens last year. She noted council had to make a stand to prevent developers from changing their property without the appropriate licences.
Kaldis told The Record last year he had trusted an employee to look after paperwork, and admitted he didn’t check the progress.
Kaldis was ordered to shut down the special events venue June 22, 2013, but before he did that, he claimed the improvements to the property, such as clearing the land and creating garden plots, made it more farmable than before and said he would work on plans to start an agricultural-based venture.
But instead of embarking on that right away, Kaldis rented out the property to give himself some time to work on another business. He denied being a part of the most recent business activity on Laxton Avenue, and pointed the finger at his tenant as the one responsible.
“I don’t want council to think I’m involved,” said Kaldis, who was aware of the illegal activity. “I’ve shared all my communication with the renter and the city … I am working to stop this.”
Kaldis is working on terminating the lease agreement with his tenant.
The owner of the property is ultimately responsible for what happens on his land, explained Mission’s chief administrative officer Ken Bjorgaard. “I think he realizes the seriousness of the situation.”
“We’ve spent enough time, effort, and energy to convince these folks they should obey the law,” said Adlem. “It’s only fair to taxpayers that we start charging for every visit.”