A recent court ruling has detailed a battle between Victoria neighbours that disintegrated into nastiness – all because of the noise emanating from a “bubbling” water feature that was installed.
A man took his neighbour and the strata to the B.C. Civil Resolution Tribunal looking for at least $20,000 in compensation (Black Press Media is leaving out the names as some of the allegations were not ruled on by the CRT decision). The case is more of a cautionary tale.
The man who filed the complaint had previously installed a water feature, but his neighbour complained to the strata council over the noise of the “bubbling” water. The man was asking the CRT to order the neighbour to “stop their verbal threats of physical violence, privacy invasions, and their ‘made-up nuisance claims.”
The complaint filed with the CRT demanded $15,000 in damages for “twice back-tracking on their decision” that the water feature noise was resolved, plus another $5,000 for not being given proper documentation on the issue.
But the neighbour denies making any kind of threats and the strata said it reasonably address the water feature noise.
The CRT refused to rule on the applicant’s claims of threats because it said that was out of its jurisdiction.
“Those allegations, if proven, may be bylaw contraventions,” said the ruling. “However, individual owners cannot enforce bylaws against other owners.”
The water feature was installed around 2014 and was called a “bubbler stub wall,” said the CRT decision.
“He says the strata council approved his requested ‘backyard improvements.’ He says the water feature has been operational for 7 years, during the summer months only.”
The strata acknowledged that the applicant had applied for some alterations to the property.
“However, the strata says neither the written proposal nor the attached sketch mentions a water feature,” reads the CRT decision. “The strata also says the strata council’s written approval also made no mention of any water feature. The strata says it has not received any request at any time to install a water feature. The strata does not dispute that the water feature has been operational for several years. However, the strata says it only became aware of the water feature when it received the complaint.”
The neighbour told the strata that the water feature noise was “louder than their own air conditioning unit,” said the CRT decision.
The strata then allowed the water feature to continue, but only under certain conditions restrictions over when it could operate and where it would be located. In a follow up, the strata was informed that those conditions had not been met and so the applicant was order to remove the water feature permanently.
Then in the spring of 2023, the neighbour said the applicant replaced the water feature with a “larger and louder one,” said the CRT decision.
“The strata says it did not ‘flip-flop’ in its decisions,” said the CRT decision. “Rather, it says its decisions reflect an attempt to mediate between the parties as best as it could. I agree. I find the evidence shows the strata changed its approach to addressing the water feature noise after investigating and receiving input from both affected strata lots at hearings in August and September 2022. I accept the strata was attempting to compromise and find a solution.”
The applicant’s claims were dismissed.