Solaris owners protest no-pets bylaw

No some face fines as much as $200 a month

Owners in the new condo complex Solaris in Pitt Meadows protest outside one of the buildings on Sunday.

Owners in the new condo complex Solaris in Pitt Meadows protest outside one of the buildings on Sunday.

Jackie Hahn’s three-year-old Shih Tzu is named Skipper, for her husband who used to captain tugboats.

When the 73-year-old moved to the Solaris development in Pitt Meadows in June to be closer to family, there was no question – Skipper was coming along.

“He’s my companion,” says Hahn, who likes to walk Skipper at least three times a day.

“There’s no way I would give him up.”

Skipper, however, isn’t welcome in the new highrise complex, next to city hall.

Hahn and almost a dozen other dog owners in both towers are now facing fines of $200 a month as the strata council enforces a “no pet” bylaw that’s pitting neighbours against each other.

Hahn claims she was told by the sales agent for Solaris Royal LePage Brookside Realty the “no pet” policy was a mistake that would be fixed once she moved in.

“I took their word at good faith,” said Hahn, who admits she signed the disclosure statements without reading through every page of the inch-thick binder.

Frank Seisling signed his documents with his dog Maggie on his lap. He too alleges realtors James Isherwood and Chad August assured him that his Pomeranian-Shih Tzu cross could move into Solaris with him.

“They both knew I had a dog,” said Seisling.

The first letters with accompanying fines were sent to owners in July and since all have been trying to get the pet issue addressed.

The owners facing fines spoke at a strata meeting, contacted the developer (RG Properties), as well as Golden Meadows Billings Development and have complained to the realtors involved, all to no avail.

The strata even hired a lawyer, for $800, who assured council they could continue enforcing the “no pet” bylaw, but demanded – in a tersely worded letter – that the marketing team at Royal LePage Brookside Realty “cease making any further misrepresentation to prospective purchasers at Solaris regarding the ability of owners to keep pets within their strata lots or anywhere else at Solaris.”

On Sunday, frustrated with no action, the prospects of losing their pets and compounding fines, the owners picketed the sales office and vow to continue their protest until a solution is found.

Christine Chaisson walked away from a purchase when she found out about the “no pet” bylaw, but went through with it after she was told the bylaw was a mistake that was going to be rectified.

“We’ve all been misled,” said Chaisson, who moved to Pitt Meadows from New Brunswick with a Labrador she has owned for three years. The owners have now filed complaints against the realtors involved.

RG Properties referred all calls about the pet bylaw back to the strata and sales agent.

Crosby Property Management, the strata’s agent, confirmed Solaris will continue to enforce its bylaws, which were registered in August 2010, before anyone moved into the apartments.

Royal LePage Brookside Realty pointed out that all the owners involved signed disclosure statements that included information on Solaris’ no pet policy, but refused to comment further on the owners’ allegations.

Those signatures leave the owners with little defence.

“If the bylaw is filed, I hate to say it, but ignorance of the law is no excuse,” said Tony Gioventu, executive director of the Condominium Home Owners Association of B.C.

Gioventu recommends the group get 20 per cent of the owners to sign a petition demanding a special general meeting to repeal the “no pet” bylaw.

“It’s the easiest way because maybe there are enough people to do it.”