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'Absurd': B.C. tribunal rejects grandchild noise complaint made by strata owner

B.C.'s Civil Resolution Tribunal ruled it was "an illogical, absurd interpretation" of a noise bylaw that would ultimately prevent children from visiting.
A literal reading of a strata bylaw would ban children from visiting, says a B.C. Civil Resolution Tribunal member.

B.C.’s Civil Resolution Tribunal has dismissed a complaint from a strata owner who claimed his upstairs neighbours repeatedly breached a noise bylaw by permitting their visiting grandchild to run, play and jump in their strata lot.

Tribunal vice-chair Kate Campbell called the argument “an illogical, absurd interpretation” of a bylaw, stating it would effectively bar children from the building.

Martin Donatelli claims the strata has refused to enforce its noise bylaw, tribunal documents state. He sought an order that the strata enforce the bylaw and another order that the strata pay $900 in bylaw infraction fines and a $1,000 ‘punitive fine’ for not enforcing the bylaw.

He further sought $1,050 for time spent on his complaint and $1,800 in damages for ‘unnecessary stress and suffering’ due to the bylaw violations.

For its part, the strata said it responded to the bylaw complaints appropriately and fairly. The strata claimed Donatelli has misinterpreted the bylaw; the noise was reasonable in the context of a residential building and does not breach the bylaw.

The strata also said Donatelli failed to prove his claim and refused to cooperate with its noise investigation.

The strata said it sent a letter to the neighbours about the noise and that the occupants agreed to take steps to mitigate it.

“The strata also says that after Mr. Donatelli continued to complain, it offered to arrange professional sound testing, but Mr. Donatelli refused to cooperate,” Campbell's ruling said.

Donatelli provided no specifics about incidents and dates, she said.

Campbell noted the bylaw says, “running, playing, jumping and other activities likely to disturb other residents is not permitted in strata lots, hallways, or stairwells.”

The strata argued that reading the bylaw narrowly “would be an illogical, absurd interpretation of (the bylaw), as visiting children would effectively be prohibited.”

Donatelli disagreed, saying the literal wording of the bylaw should apply, meaning running, playing and jumping are strictly prohibited.

“He says children may visit as long as they do not run, play, or jump,” Campbell said.

She said she agreed with the strata.

“It would be absurd to impose a literal interpretation of (the bylaw),” the tribunal member said. “This is because on its face, the wording of the bylaw prohibits all forms of playing in strata lots. This would mean that strata residents could not play card games, video games, or board games, or engage in any other form of play in their homes.”

A literal interpretation of the bylaw, she added, would effectively contradict another bylaw that permits children to visit.

“I dismiss Mr. Donatelli’s claims.” 

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