A Sept. 28 BC Court of Appeal decision maintained that Seawatch property owners have no claim of negligence against Sechelt’s former subdivision approving officer, Ray Parfitt. Justice David Harris rejected the appeal of an Aug. 24, 2020 BC Supreme Court decision delivered by Justice George Macintosh. The appeal was filed by owners of eight properties in the subdivision, which was closed in 2019 by the municipality due to life safety risks posed by subsurface instability.
The appeal’s reasons for decision states that B.C.’s Land Titles Act allows that a subdivision may be approved despite the existence of geotechnical risks. The Act provides that the approving officer may mitigate such risks by requesting a geotechnical assessment and including that information in a covenant attached to the titles of the resulting properties. In the case of the Seawatch lands, those actions were taken at the time the subdivision was approved.
Harris wrote: “The ability of an approving officer to place future lot owners, such as the appellants, on notice of geotechnical risks and to request assurances from applicants as a condition of approval does not support a finding of a private law duty of care owed (by Parfitt) to future lot owners.”
Sechelt, Parfitt and the province were named as defendants in the appeal. The lawyer for the property owners, Jeff Scouten, told Coast Reporter that as there are approving officers who work for the province on subdivision applications located outside of municipalities, the province has a “broader precedential interest” in seeing the decision upheld.
Neither Sechelt nor Parfitt were willing to comment on the decision when contacted by Coast Reporter.