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Stop work order issued to development in boat-in community of Doriston

Sunshine Coast Regional District order pertains to work being done on the site. Neighbours have raised concerns about the potential bed and breakfast development in the remote Sunshine Coast community.
Gunnars
A photo of the Doriston area, southeast of Egmont, B.C.

A stop work order has been issued to a potential bed and breakfast operation on a remote property in Doriston Landing, on Sechelt Inlet southeast of Egmont.  The Sunshine Coast Regional District  (SCRD) order pertains to work being done on the site. 

Communications Officer Aidan Buckely stated in an email on July 13, "Stop work orders are posted in situations where construction has been carried out without valid permits or is contrary to SCRD Building Bylaw No. 687 or BC Building Code," but due to an ongoing bylaw enforcement investigation, was unable to disclose the date of the order or they type of work that it pertained to.

The property in question has been given the name Gunnar’s Lodge by its new off-Coast owner Riaz Pisani, who told Coast Reporter that he purchased the parcel “about a month ago.” 

The SCRD investigation regarding potential illegal work was launched after a neighbour inquired and was advised that no permits for work at the site had been issued. They reported that construction was under way at the site and filed an online bylaw enforcement complaint on June 24.

Concerns about proposed operations

Adjacent property owners became concerned after becoming aware of the gunnarslodge.com website. Up to July 10, that site described guest accommodation and entertainment experiences “second to none” for eight or more guests in three separate units, including the services of a private chef and alcohol with meals.

In an email to Coast Reporter, one of the concerned individuals, who requested anonymity wrote: “There is a big concern for water usage and sanitation as they have begun the installation of a large commercial sized septic system on this residential property to service multiple unpermitted buildings that they are currently constructing and renovating. Doriston is a small tight knit community consisting of approximately 15 boat access properties with year-round residents. The extremely fast pace of construction suggests the developer is trying to get people to the resort paying $5k per week or weekend this summer.”

“Another big concern is fire safety because they advertise firepits and tourists that may not be aware of fire danger and prevention will be being served unlimited amounts of alcohol,” they wrote.

The website has since been modified to list accommodations only in the two existing structures. Pisani indicated that only one of those units would be rented out as guest accommodation at any time, limiting the guest number to a maximum of six. He said that the website was set up just for “exploring what might be possible” and that he would not be accepting guests at the property, other than his family and friends until into 2023.

The applicable SCRD zoning bylaw allows for bed and breakfast as well as  short term accommodation rentals on residential properties as long as a resident operator is on-site during the rental.

Pisani stated that he plans to have a caretaker on site. He also said that the property has a water licence to draw potable water from a nearby creek and that his plans are to have any eventual guest travel to the site using local water taxis, eliminating the need for the addition of moorage infrastructure.  

A site with a history

The real estate listing for the property, 3746 Doriston Landing, describes it as a “21.7 acre oceanfront paradise offering 660 feet of easy access waterfront, protected moorage, two beautiful homes, 10,000 square feet of garden space with a greenhouse and more than 60 mature fruit and nut trees." Its listing price was $1,325,000.

According to a BC Postal History Study Group, website posting, the Doriston area was settled in the early 1900s with a sawmill built by Bert Whitaker, an entrepreneur who owned a series of stores and hotels in Sechelt. The original owners of the property, Oskar and Albertina Gjerdin arrived in 1924. They built a home, raised three children and became renowned for their hospitality. Their two sons, Gunnar and Martin stayed on the land throughout their lives continuing the tradition of being welcoming hosts. Gunnar became known as the unofficial “mayor” of Doriston until his death in 2003 at the age of 90.

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