An important date has been given in the matter of Brampton’s Big Blue House. On September 20, 2016, a judge will decide the next steps in what has been a 3 year long saga.
The Big Blue House lies partially constructed in a neighbourhood where many residents are anxious to see the situation resolved. Construction was halted on the site after the City of Brampton revoked the building permit, declaring a technical discrepancy. The owner, Ahmed Elbasiouni contends that his building permit was valid and should not have been revoked. Both sides have dug in and litigation is ongoing.
Court proceedings ended abruptly today at an Ontario Superior Court of Justice hearing presided by Justice Kofi Barnes. The contempt hearing brought forward by the City of Brampton against the owner was dismissed and labeled unnecessary.
A neighbor that lives next to the Big Blue House was left outside the courtroom as Justice Barnes began to write his decision without calling further witnesses.
The hearing was a second part that followed an initial hearing that took place in June. The City’s attorney was alleging at that time that the owner of the home at 443 Centre Street North had been “purposefully delaying in order to allow the property to fall in to such a state that it will have to be torn down and rebuilt from scratch.”
In 2014, the court had instructed Elbasiouni to either apply for a variance to the zoning, revise the permit to bring the home into compliance, or demolish the building. In October of 2015, Elbasiouni applied for a variance to the zoning rules but was denied, and in that respect, it was alleged that he had “inexplicably requested a variance that relieves him from any maximum lot coverage, perhaps with the deliberate intent of having his application rejected.”
“LEFT HAND DOES NOT KNOW WHAT THE RIGHT HAND IS DOING”
In a direct letter to the court, the City’s external lawyer writes that Elbasiouni’s attempt was not in good faith compliance with the Court’s timetable Order, and “merely another delay tactic aimed at not having to actually resume construction of the house, but to continue to let it sit in the elements and rot away, so that the Appellant can then seek to have the entire house torn down and claim all of that as damages in his $14 million dollar tort claim against the City.”
At the hearing that took place in June, witnesses, expert witnesses, and city staff were present and evidence was given. Upon the continuation of the hearing on Friday, and without hearing from the expert witnesses or city staff, Justice Kofi Barnes wrote, “I conclude that the City is not in sync with its counsel; the “left hand does not know what the right hand is doing”. Had this not been the case perhaps the contempt hearing would not have been necessary.” Adding: “All discussions involving finding a way to move forward shall involve the CBO (Chief Building Officer).”
Seemingly frustrated, the Judge’s ruling states that “finality is required” and that “the matter cannot languish in the Superior Court.”
The judge has given instructions and a strict timeline that leaves little wiggle room. The parties must start discussions to determine a way forward by September 14th. If they cannot reach an agreement, they must submit their requested next steps by September 19th, and the Judge will make a ruling on September 20th. In his ruling the judge states “This timetable shall be strictly enforced by the court.”
Brampton Focus contacted Lynne Murphy, a resident that lives adjacent to the Big Blue House for her comment. Hearing the news, she stated, “I’m glad that somebody is taking control of this situation and trying to put an end to it. I want this over.”
We will certainly keep you posted.