The B.C. Civil Resolution Tribunal has ordered a Burnaby strata to do more about its pigeon problem than tell residents to keep their balconies clear and use fake owls as deterrents.
Tiffany Thoreson, a resident of the Esprit 2 highrise at 7325 Arcola St. in the Edmonds neighbourhood, took her strata to the tribunal over a list of grievances, including pigeons, according to a recent tribunal ruling.
Thoreson said pigeons have infested common property at the building and argued the strata was obligated to hire a pest control company to deal with them.
But the strata said it had done enough and birds roosting in tall buildings was a natural phenomenon in cities.
Tribunal member David Jiang disagreed.
He ruled the strata had “acted unreasonably” in not addressing its pigeon problem; gave it 60 days to come up with two proposals from pest control companies; and ordered it to hold a meeting within 120 days to vote on one or more ways to deal with the troublesome birds.
“I find it unproven that the strata attempted any solutions or seriously investigated the cost to do so,” Jiang wrote. “I find it was obligated to do so, given the complaints of the applicants and other owners over the years.”
Thoreson had personally gotten a quote from a pest control company that found pigeons were “targeting” parts of her building.
“(The pest control company) observed pigeon waste on window ledges and balconies. It also saw pigeons sitting on window ledges and seemingly entering strata lots on floors 11 and 12,” stated the ruling.
Further evidence of the building’s pigeon problem has been dropping for years onto Thoreson’s fifth-floor deck, which is slightly bigger than the balconies above it and therefore catches debris falling from the floors above.
Thoreson submitted photos of some of the items that have landed on her deck, including a dead pigeon, cracked pigeon eggs, pigeon waste, bird seeds, several fake owls, strips of bird spikes and a rubber snake.
Jiang concluded it was likely a person using Thoreson’s deck faced a “non-trivial risk of being hit by pigeon waste.”
Other debris that has landed on Thoreson’s deck since she moved in in 2020 has included cigarette butts, dog toys, gardening materials, garbage, a broom handle and even a metal bar, according to the ruling.
The strata manager initially suggested a large umbrella was the “best solution” to the problem, but Thoreson installed an outdoor canopy tent on the deck instead.
The strata told her to take it down and put up an umbrella or risk fines.
When Thoreson got a quote for an aluminum patio cover, the strata rejected it, saying it wouldn’t “fit the building’s aesthetic," so Thoreson appealed to the tribunal for an order forcing the strata to allow her to install the aluminum patio cover.
Jiang said he couldn’t do that because both the patio cover and the tent represented a “significant change” in the use and appearance of common property – and stratas, under the Strata Property Act, aren’t allowed to make such changes unless they are approved by three quarters of the people at an annual general meeting or special general meeting.
But Jiang did order the strata to hold a meeting within 120 days to vote on the aluminum patio cover or another design of Thoreson’s choice.
Jiang also ordered the strata to pay Thoreson $122.50 as partial reimbursement of her tribunal fees.
The CRT is an online, quasi-judicial tribunal that hears strata property disputes of any amount and small claims disputes of $5,000 and less.