Shawn Marston stands in front of a landscaping project he completed at a home in Lantzville. Marston says despite receiving approval from the District of Lantzville to proceed with the project last year, the district is ordering him to removal it because it violates a municipal bylaw. (Nicholas Pescod/NEWS BULLETIN)

Lantzville waterfront property ordered to remove encroaching landscaping

Landscaper says the district had approved the project, but changed its mind recently

A local landscaper says he’s been ordered by the District of Lantzville to remove thousands of dollars worth of landscaping from a waterfront home despite the municipality approving the project.

Shawn Marston, owner of Parallel Landscape Design, said he recently received a letter from the district ordering him to remove landscaping work he completed at his parents’ home – located at the corner of Eby and Shangri-La roads – because it violates a municipal bylaw.

The district’s issue, according to Marston, is over rocks he placed more than a year ago in an area between the road and the fence referred to as a boulevard. Marston said the landscaping project involved removing blackberry bushes and grass and replacing them with a far more “esthetically pleasing” design.

“We’ve removed all of these invasive species and put something in that is very green, low maintenance, with well-draining soil. There is nothing that is going to grow up or encroach on the road at all, which you can see on a lot of properties in Lantzville,” he said.

Before the work began, Marston, who shared his story on Facebook, said he sought and received the district’s approval for the project as the work extended beyond the actual property line and onto the boulevard.

“We had a district planner come out and advise on it. What we did was we laid out the entire scope of what we wanted to do and he said that looks great,” Marston said, adding that the district examined the project once it was finished and was satisfied with the work.

Everything seemed to be fine until Tuesday when Marston received a letter from the district that 1,500 square feet of rocks along Shangri-La Road violate a street use bylaw and must be removed by the end of the month.

“To remove all the rocks and take them somewhere would be in the $5,000 to $10,000 range,” Marston said, adding that the entire project cost around $20,000.

He said someone likely complained to the district about the landscaping and that it doesn’t seem fair because other properties in the neighbourhood have fences or rocks that are even closer to the road, adding that the landscaping is merely intended to beautify the area.

“I think this is a positive thing that we’ve done and this is sort of being turned into a negative thing,” Marston said. “It’s sort of shocking.”

Lantzville’s current community planner, Kyle Young, told the News Bulletin he couldn’t comment on the matter but acknowledged that the district is aware of the issue and the matter has been referred to the Regional District of Nanaimo, which enforces the district’s bylaws.

Marston said there hasn’t been any contact from the RDN and that his family is planning to hire a lawyer to determine whether it’s violated any district bylaws. He said he’d like to appear before council to ask for an extension on the deadline.

Mayor Mark Swain said it’s a bylaw infraction regarding road encroachment and has nothing to do with council.

“Essentially, it is staff’s job to carry out the policy and that is what they are doing,” Swain said.”It’s not like we are singling anybody out. A complaint has been made and the district is following up on it. It’s just like anybody else in the district. If a complaint is made, they are going to follow up.”

Swain, who saw Marston’s Facebook post, said although he doesn’t know all the specifics regarding the situation, Marston is welcome to come before council and ask for an extension. He also said the assertion that other neighbouring properties are violating the bylaw might not be accurate.

“You would have to look at each individual one and determine whether an encroachment is occurring,” Swain said. “If it is going into a road right-of-way then that’s encroachment and is where the issue lies.”

For Marston, however, he would just like to resolve the issue in a manner that works for everyone.

“We are happy to make some adjustments but we just don’t want to remove it all,” he said. 
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