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B.C. tribunal 2023 work included teeth, pet urine, doorbells and hot tubs

B.C.'s Civil Resolution Tribunal is an independent, quasi-judicial tribunal that operates differently from the traditional courtroom model in resolving disputes.
A few years ago, a Vancouver strata spent $22,000 fighting to have a patio hot tub removed.

Pets, airline travel problems and strata conflicts made for interesting reading among B.C. Civil Resolution Tribunal decisions in 2023.

And, hot tubs. No year-end review of the tribunal’s work would be complete without hot tub disputes.

Teeth-depth measuring

One of the more biting disputes of the year was about teeth-depth measuring.

The tribunal dismissed a small claims action by two people suing for $4,125 for time they claim was wasted seeking dental information.

Otto Haug and Edith Normandin filed the claim against the BC College of Oral Health Professionals. They disputed services Normandin received through a dental clinic.

In her Aug. 22 decision, tribunal chair Simmi Sandhu said Haug and Normandin had asked local dental clinics and dentist associations in both B.C. and Manitoba for an “explanation of the benefit and price for measuring depths around their teeth.”

Sandhu wasn’t clear why they had sued the college.

Cat urine

Fights about pet ownership or compensation for unsatisfactory ones dominated animal disputes this year.

In an Oct. 30 decision, the tribunal dismissed a complaint from a woman who alleged her neighbours’ cats damaged property by entering her unit and urinating and defecating there.

Tribunal member Nav Shukla said complainant Jaime Lee Metcalfe and respondents Jamie Major and Corbin Major live in the same house. 

Shukla said Metcalfe also alleged there were flies in her unit because of the cat urine. The landlord said flies Metcalfe complained about were likely from garbage she leaves by the front door as she always leaves the front door open.

Metcalfe claimed $5,000 in damages for alleged property damage and pain and suffering.

“I find the applicant has failed to prove that the respondents’ cats have caused any damage to their property,” Shukla said.

Strata doorbell camera

The tribunal rejected a Langley man’s bid to have a doorbell camera at his strata unit.

Brodie Thompson rents a strata lot and had installed a doorbell camera without the strata’s approval.

At the strata’s request after a bylaw complaint, he removed it but later applied for approval and was denied, tribunal member Micah Carmody said in a Dec. 12 decision.

Thompson claimed the strata was unfairly denying him a doorbell camera that it had allowed for 40 other units.

The strata said the issue was one of privacy.

“The doorbell camera’s view undisputedly included other strata lot entrances. It was appropriate for the strata to consider the privacy rights of other residents, including the person who complained about Mr. Thompson’s doorbell camera, and balance them against Mr. Thompson’s security concerns,” Carmody ruled.

Couple fined as babies increased strata occupancy

A Vancouver strata fined a couple for violating occupancy restrictions after they had two babies.

Christina James and Matt Rowland lived in Fairview Village strata complex, a recent B.C. Human Rights Tribunal decision says.

Shortly after their first child was born, Fairview Village notified James and Rowland they were in violation of the strata’s occupancy bylaw and began levying fines for the violation.

The family eventually moved to a rental and filed the tribunal complaint, alleging family status discrimination under the B.C. Human Rights Code.

Fairview Village denied discriminating and applied to dismiss the complaint, said tribunal member Robin Dean’s Dec. 1 decision on the strata’s application to dismiss the case.

Dean rejected that application.

Dean said continuing with the complaint would be in line with the public purposes of the code.

Water leak

The tribunal rejected a $210,848 radiator valve leak claim from two B.C. strata owners who claimed a contractor colluded with the strata to present false evidence.

The case involved mould, asbestos, multiple contractors and delays for various reasons.

However, said tribunal member Kate Campbell said in her Nov. 20 decision, “I find that much of the delay was due to the applicants’ own actions, so even if the water or mould were unhealthy, the strata’s actions did not cause that outcome.”

In the end, Campbell ordered the strata to pay Amy Mitchell and Ian Brett $8,431.46 for the cost of restoring the parts of their unit opened for the leak investigation, plus $428.38 in prejudgment interest.

Helping grandmother

The tribunal dismissed a strata’s claim against a disabled elderly grandmother after it claimed her grandson did not meet the complex's 55-year-old age requirement when he provided the woman overnight medical care.

In his Aug. 22 decision, tribunal vice-chair Garth Cambrey said that the strata had failed to accommodate a now-90-year-old woman’s disability.

The strata filed the claim against siblings Dorothy Bendsen and John Metson — who co-owned a strata unit with their mother, identified as RM — after Bendsen’s son stayed with his grandmother to care for her following a stroke in 2019.

The strata had imposed $2,400 in fines.

Bendsen and Metson said their mother’s disability required overnight medical care and that she was entitled to reasonable accommodation under B.C.’s Human Rights Code.

Cambrey said the strata began imposing fines before allowing the family to respond.

“I find the bylaws imposed against the respondents are invalid,” the tribunal member ruled.

Gift card mental distress

The tribunal dismissed the case of a man who said he couldn’t work due to a dispute with Home Depot over a gift card.

David Peters told tribunal member Christopher Rivers that he tried to purchase a tool chest online from Home Depot using a $500 gift card.

Peters said Home Depot was unable to fulfil the online order and agreed to give him a refund. He soon found it had not been credited.

Peters claimed $500 for the value of his gift card, $30 further to an offered credit from Home Depot and $24.20 in travel expenses to and from Home Depot.

He also claimed $2,000 in damages for mental distress as well as $2,300 in damages for being unable to fulfil a business contract asserting that Home Depot prevented him from acquiring the necessary items.

Rivers dismissed the mental distress claim.

“There is no medical evidence establishing that Mr. Peters has suffered any mental consequences from the events described above,” Rivers said.

The tribunal dismissed the lost work claim for losing a sump pump contract.

Hair bleaching

The tribunal rejected the case of a woman who claimed $5,000 in damages after she said her hair bleaching went horribly wrong.

Banafsheh Fahimi claimed Khaled Rahime"over-bleached" her hair, causing damage. She claimed $5,000 for the amount she allegedly paid Rahime for hair services, plus damages for repair treatments and products.

Rahime said Fahimi received over $1,000 in hair services for only $300, and that he offered the second appointment free to assist Fahimi with her dissatisfaction.

The tribunal member found Fahimi did not meet her burden of proving that Rahim’s hair services were negligent.

Hot tub not absurd

A B.C. Supreme Court judge upheld a B.C. Civil Resolution Tribunal decision finding that a strata hot tub is patio furniture that can be allowed on balconies.

“The tribunal member’s conclusion certainly does not border on the absurd,” Justice Michael Tammen ruled in August.

It’s a case that dates back two years to a tribunal decision where a Vancouver strata spent $22,000 fighting to have a patio hot tub removed.

John Emmerton and Van Ortega put an inflatable hot tub on a limited common property rooftop patio outside their Hamilton Street unit.

The strata told the tribunal at the time that strata bylaws did not permit hot tubs on patios and the two were in contravention of the rules.