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Council ponders retaining wall that grew well beyond Salmon Arm bylaw limits

Tall wall constructed before city variance permit obtained
Salmon Arm council considers a development variance permit application requested after a 17.5-foot retaining wall, taller than the 6.5 feet permitted, was built in North Broadview. (City of Salmon Arm image)

A North Broadview retaining wall built nearly three times the height allowed by a Salmon Arm bylaw was among the items considered at a recent development and planning services meeting.

Planning staff told council of a development variance permit application to increase the maximum height of a retaining wall from 6.5 feet to 17.5 feet at 2871 25th Ave. NE. Staff said the increase would support backyard use on a sloping parcel, and such walls are not uncommon in the city’s residential areas. Staff had no concerns with the request.

The written planning report noted that the wall was constructed before a building permit was obtained or a height variance requested.

“After previously being informed by the Building Department that a permit was required for the already constructed retaining wall, the agent applied for a Building Permit with the City in October 2022. Following this, staff performed routine plan checks and informed the agent that a height variance was required for the retaining wall and fence. As a result, the agent submitted a variance permit application on January 27, 2023,” reads the report.

The agent, Shane Burgi with Edge Craft Construction Inc., explained that with houses on each side, builders were trying to include a lower wall but they decided they needed to keep the height to make everything match so they wouldn’t have drainage problems throughout.

The other reason, he said, was to keep dirt from eroding away.

He told council the neighbours were kept informed and were good with what was being done.

Coun. Tim Lavery pointed out that the height was increased a fair amount over the bylaw limit and asked what the agent might do in the future.

Burgi spoke about it being a difficult property and said, in the future, more planning would be done.

Lavery thanked him and emphasized that “I think it’s absolutely critical that… checking into the bylaw is part of due process.”

Mayor Alan Harrison said he was sure the agent knows it’s much easier for a council to deal with a variance before a wall is built, and added: “You have a very attractive wall there I think; you’ve done a good job.”

Council asked for a letter from the neighbour attesting to their approval of the retaining wall.

A decision on the variance permit application will be made at council’s evening meeting on Feb. 27.

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Martha Wickett

About the Author: Martha Wickett

came to Salmon Arm in May of 2004 to work at the Observer. I was looking for a change from the hustle and bustle of the Lower Mainland, where I had spent more than a decade working in community newspapers.
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