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STRATA CORPORATION AGREES TO SETTLE DISCRIMINATION MATTER WITHOUT JUDICIAL REVIEW
OSOYOOS TIMES-June 2, 2010
By Paul Everest – Osoyoos Times
Members of the Casitas Del Sol strata corporation have voted to mediate a settlement with a resident of the manufactured-home community on 115th street who lives with a disability.
Maureen Poucher, who became the corporation’s president in June of last year, said 54 members of the corporation attended a meeting on May 29 and agreed to settle a discrimination issue with Mick Shannon, a retired train engineer in his 60s who suffers from a type of lung disease known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal issued a decision in December where it found that the corporation had discriminated against Shannon when it forced him to remove a solar screen he installed on one of his home’s windows.
Since his COPD symptoms, including chronic coughing and breathing difficulties, are exacerbated by continuous exposure to in-home air conditioning, Shannon installed the screen without the corporation’s permission to help cool his home and minimize the need for air conditioning in Osoyoos’s hot climate.
The corporation argued, however, that by installing the screen, Shannon went against a corporation bylaw that states that owners in the development must seek the written consent of the corporation before making any changes or alterations to the exterior of a home and that any alterations must conform to the community’s design guidelines.
Tribunal member Lindsay Lyster found that the corporation’s actions were discriminatory against Shannon as they had an adverse effect on him because of his physical disability.
Lyster issued an order entitling Shannon to reinstall the screen on his home’s front window and ordered the council to pay Shannon’s legal expenses as well as $2,500 as compensation for injury to his dignity.
An alleged introduction of inaccurate evidence during the hearing resulted in Lyster ruling that the strata corporation engaged in improper conduct.
In February, the corporation filed a petition for judicial review with the B.C. Supreme Court asking for the court to declare that the tribunal, in laying out its decision in December, exceeded its jurisdiction and breached the rules of natural justice and procedural fairness.
The council argued that the tribunal ultimately treated it unfairly when it came to what evidence was allowed during tribunal proceedings last summer and through its finding that the corporation had acted improperly when presenting evidence.
At the May 29 meeting however, corporation members agreed that a settlement should be reached without a judicial review, Poucher said.
She would not provide any details on when such a settlement process would take place or how the mediation would be carried out.
But Naomi Shannon, Mick’s wife, said the settlement would focus on the legal fees she and her husband paid out during the human rights tribunal process.
She added that her husband and the strata corporation will be going back to the tribunal for mediation.
Naomi also said the screen in question is currently not in place on her home’s front window because the weather has been cool, but she and her husband will put it back up once temperatures begin to rise this summer.