The Okanagan Rhythmic Gymnastics Club is being told not to use its facility on East Vernon Road for gymnastics.
A Do Not Occupy For Assembly Use order was given to the club by the Regional District of North Okanagan Friday after a board decision.
RDNO administrator David Sewell says it limits what can be done on the site.
“They do have a valid building permit for farm accessory use and they can still us the facility for that purpose. They don’t have a valid permit for assembly use which is what the gymnastics facility would be,” Sewell tells Kiss FM
Sewell says they took the action because the club hasn’t yet provided a formal engineers report about requirements tied to a zoning change back in January.
“We haven’t received that formal report,” says Sewell.
“On January 4, 2017 the RDNO undertook to proceed with actions to legalize the use of a gymnastics facility at 2515 East Vernon Road,” says an RDNO release. “A condition identified at that time was the RDNO receiving a report from a Professional Engineer outlining the necessary alterations to bring the buildings used for gymnastics purposes into compliance with the BC Building Code and the Regional District of North Okanagan Building Bylaw.
“The RDNO has been in regular correspondence with the property owner as to these requirements and the expected timelines. Presently, the applicant has not submitted a formal report meeting these requirements. The applicant has forwarded preliminary correspondence which indicates that while the building is structurally compliant, there are a number of safety deficiencies and potential deficiencies of concern to users of the facility.”
“Given the significant delays in addressing the conditions outlined by the Board back in January, the identified safety deficiencies and for the protection of the public, the RDNO is moving forward with an escalated enforcement action. The RDNO remains committed to working with the property owner to address safety concerns in a timely manner and achieve regulatory compliance,” says the release.
The following is a press release issued by Camille Martens from Okanagan Rhythmic Gymnastics on Friday night:
At 3:45pm on Friday afternoon RDNO’s Chief Building Inspector Dave Gardner knocked on door of the Martens home. He handed his business card to 15 year old Anastasia Martens, who was home alone and smiled at her as he told her they were putting a sign on her mom’s gym to close it.
He proceeded to drive to the gym and dance studio on the property and put Do Not Occupy notices on both buildings.
At no point did the building inspector attempt to contact me (Camille Martens). He did not enter either building to look for himself at any potential areas of concern, nor did he attempt to speak with the adults (who were coaching 16 rehearsing students) inside the gym at that time.
We had no warning or call to fix anything specific and had shared all our information with them (as recently as June 6th). To see “DO NOT OCCUPY” signs there on a Friday at 4pm, was both shocking and upsetting. To do that just before the weekend when we have no way of doing anything seems sadly in line with how they have done everything else.
As a single mom who makes a low annual income, I’ve been relying exclusively on the generous volunteer assistance of legal and engineering advice. The tremendously supportive parents from the club, the lawyer and engineers that are helping me, have made it possible to try to keep the club running smoothly amidst this. For them I am extremely grateful and indebted.
On June 6th (this past Tuesday) I got an email from volunteering engineer Rene Bourcet asking to verify a few final things about the building before he was complete his report to RDNO.
The letter had a question if we had a second door that led directly outside (which we have indeed had since we moved here in 2009: one on the west wall and one on the east wall). He couldn’t remember if we had emergency exit signs and lighting, which we do. In his letter he also noted that the stairs leading to our storage area mezzanine do not meet regulation (they are an 8” rise by an 11” run and they need to be 7” rise by 11” run). He said he needed to verify our railing height to be 42” (which it is). We responded that we would do whatever needed doing. He concluded his letter with: “I can write this up formally if you need it before I get back at the end of June. Most of these items can be rectified quite easily. The important fact is that structurally the building is safe.”
At that point Mr. Bourcet went on a family holiday to England and we forwarded his letter to RDNO and their lawyer so they knew exactly where we were at.
After publicly assuring us they wanted to help us in every way possible, oday RDNO issued a “Do Not Occupy” order and stapled it to our gym.
I am guessing that the stairs and/or mezzanine is what concerns them right now, since I can’t see what else it could be. Today we called Bourcet engineering about the signs from RDNO, and immediately another volunteer engineer came to the gym. She verbally verified that the gym is completely safe. Under her advice, I have made a barrier and a “no public access” sign for the stairs/mezzanine as the rise is 8” and they have to verify if that is acceptable or if we have to update the stairs. We hope this can help in assuring RDNO we will bring any concern they have to where they want it to be. She is in contact with Mr. Bourcet in England, and they are hoping to issue their official Sealed letter ASAP.
RDNO signed off a final inspection on our gym during classes back in 2009 (with the stairs and mezzanine as they are now) which makes this whole thing even more confusing. No one from RDNO has come to do a site visit or internal assessment of any kind since this all erupted last year. In any case, we will of course do everything we can to do whatever is required.
At this time we are not using our dance studio space, and won’t use the mezzanine so we can be sure it all meets everything they need. We hope to be able to resume our training and preparation as soon as possible, even if we can’t use the 8” stairs.
Since the last public attention, the RDNO board voted unanimously in support of our application to the ALC. The ALC application was accepted and has been processed. Despite this unanimous support, it is puzzling that the RDNO has chosen to act in this manner only days before the ALC has their site visit.
Tonight I came home from grocery shopping to find the signs and to get messages and emails from the press asking for my words on this latest chapter. It brings me great sadness that this has happened. My personal philosophy and passion has always been about giving back to my community, through children. My hope is that this never-ending nightmare will quickly be resolved.