The Village of Salmo has told Cody Puckett and Ashley Nelson that clearing land at this property doesn’t constitute building a property according to a bylaw. Photo: Submitted

The Village of Salmo has told Cody Puckett and Ashley Nelson that clearing land at this property doesn’t constitute building a property according to a bylaw. Photo: Submitted

Work in progress? Salmo family, village at odds over property construction

Cody Puckett says he’s being evicted from his own land, which the village disputes

A couple building a home in Salmo say the village is evicting them from their own land.

Cody Puckett and Ashley Nelson have been told they have until Dec. 15 to vacate their 17-acre property at 3 Woodland Dr. after the village cancelled their building permit and cited various violations of Salmo’s building bylaw.

Those infractions, chief among them that the couple has done no construction work on the property since the permit was issued, are being disputed by Puckett.

“The village wants to see progress, but we can’t make progress if we’re not here doing the work,” he said.

The property was purchased by Puckett’s parents in October 2017, with Puckett and Nelson named 25 per cent shareholders. Puckett says they moved an RV onto the property in October 2018, then received a building permit from the village on May 7, 2020. That permit also allows Puckett and Nelson to live in the RV during construction.

Salmo’s building bylaw stipulates a permit can be terminated if “work authorized by the permit is not commenced within six months from the date of issuance of the permit.”

What constitutes work is a source of dispute between both parties.

Puckett said they have spent months clearing the forested area while also milling timber for the home. But in a letter from Salmo’s bylaw enforcement office dated Dec. 1, the village said preparing lumber isn’t the same as building.

Mayor Diana Lockwood told the Nelson Star that distinction isn’t unique to Salmo.

“You don’t have to have a building permit to clear land to get the land ready to build,” she said. “You can own land anywhere and go and prepare it. Take down the trees, remove shrubbery, whatever. And then you would go in and get your building permit.”

Puckett said his family isn’t asking for an extension to the permit. They just want the year already agreed on to finish the home.

“They approved our … permit for one year, and we’re six months into that. We just want them to give us that year that we’ve paid for.”

Who owns the property is also a matter of debate.

The names on the property’s title are Puckett’s parents, Tom Puckett and Karen Johnson. Tom Puckett, an experienced builder, lives in 100 Mile House but hasn’t been able to help out due to pandemic travel restrictions and a heart attack he says he suffered Oct. 17.

That matters because the village has told the family only the owner may live in the onsite RV during construction, but that stipulation also doesn’t exist in the bylaw.

The village also accuses Cody Puckett and Nelson of:

• Not having the RV connected to the village’s water and sewer system, which is required by the bylaw and also impossible given the location of the property.

Puckett said he didn’t understand why they were initially given the permit for the RV if that was an issue.

Up to this point, the pair have been using a pit to catch grey water and a privy for sewage, neither of which the village says are allowed by provincial health regulations. Puckett added they plan to install a well and septic system in the spring.

Lockwood said two other homes near the Puckett property have built their own water and septic systems. Extending the village system to that location, she said, would be too expensive for just three properties.

• Building roads on the property. Puckett said pre-existing logging roads on the property have been cleaned for wildfire mitigation, but that they have not built any new roads.

A provision in the bylaw allows for a permit’s extension “where construction has not commenced or where construction has been discontinued due to adverse weather, strikes, material or labour shortages, or similar hardship beyond the owner’s control.”

Puckett says the pandemic, and his father’s condition, should be fall within that provision.

“If these aren’t times of hardship, I don’t know what are.”

But Lockwood said the family never applied for an extension, and that an extension wouldn’t satisfy the village’s current concerns.

“Everybody has to play by the same rules,” she said.

@tyler_harper | tyler.harper@nelsonstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Castlegar City Council at a January Zoom meeting. Clockwise: Maria McFaddin, Bergen Price, Sue Heaton-Sherstibitoff, Cherryl MacLeod, Florio Vassilakakis, Dan Rye.
Castlegar council temporarily fills vacancies left by departing mayor

Councillor Dan Rye will serve as the acting mayor until the byelection

Amanda Parsons, a registered nurse on staff at the Northwood Care facility, administers a dose of the Moderna vaccine to Ann Hicks, 77, in Halifax on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan-Pool
61 new COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Interior Health

Twenty-nine people are in hospital, seven of whom are in intensive care

Interior Health has set up a COVID-19 testing site in Castlegar. Photo: Betsy Kline
No new COVID-19 cases diagnosed in Castlegar for Jan. 3-9

The BCDCD has begun to report more localized COVID-19 numbers in recent weeks

Community mental health workers are in high demand, and a new program at Selkirk College will provide opportunities in this field. File Photo
Selkirk College to train community mental health workers

Twelve students will complete two courses enabling them to work in health and human services

The City of Castlegar plans to move to renewable energy by 2050. Photo: Betsy Kline
City of Castlegar adopts West Kootenay 100% Renewable Energy Plan

It represents a commitment to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2050

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

The Elk Valley Hospital is adapting to meet the needs of patients in the Elk Valley.
One in five tests in Fernie area coming back positive: doctor

Dr Ron Clark of Elk Valley Hospital said one in five tests was returning positive for COVID-19

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Throughout December, RCMP conducted CounterAttack road checks as police worked to keep roads free of impaired drivers. (BLACK PRESS file photo)
From the “You can’t make this stuff up” file – stories from the BC CounterAttack campaign

Amusing, yes, but a reminder impaired driving affects ability to drive and to make good decisions

(Thesendboys/Instagram)
Video of man doing backflip off Vancouver bridge draws police condemnation

Group says in Instagram story that they ‘don’t do it for the clout’

Inspection of bridge crossing on a B.C. forest service road. (B.C. Forest Practices Board)
B.C. falling behind in maintenance of forest service roads

Auditor finds nearly half of bridges overdue for repair

(Black Press Media files)
Woman steals bottles of wine after brandishing stun baton in New Westminster

Police say the female suspect was wearing a beige trench coat with fur lining

Stand up paddleboarder Christie Jamieson is humbled to her knees as a pod of transient orcas put on a dramatic show on Jan. 19 in the Ucluelet Harbour. (Nora O’Malley photo)
UPDATED WITH VIDEO: Vancouver Island paddle boarder surrounded by pod of orcas

“My whole body is still shaking. I don’t even know what to do with this energy.”

Most Read