A Fruitvale business is asking its patrons to get behind a petition that asks the village to step back from its paint job.
When a leaky roof was hanging overhead Villagers Inn owner Mary Siu, she decided it was time for repairs to the roof and an update to the white building’s trim and siding. But she didn’t know the village offered design guidelines, specifically a suggested colour scheme, to its business owners in hopes of conveying a certain historical theme.
Originally from Asia, Siu has done business in Canada for a quarter of a century with the last 11 years invested in the hotel, pub and liquor store, which are all housed under the same roof off of Highway 3B.
She leases a portion of the building out to a Chinese restaurant and has assigned Len Fuller to manage all of her operations.
“The reason we started this job was because we have roof leaks, we were unaware that there was any suggestive colour scheme,” explained Fuller.
“I’ve thought it’s needed sprucing up for years, the facade was put up in 1979 when the building was built so do the math, it’s like 34-year-old cedar.
“When it came down to it rather than going with the old forest green, the stoic colour, we thought we’d put something up that’s brighter so we can catch people’s attention when they’re cruising down the highway.”
That they did. Halfway through the job, the village put a stop order on the repairs because the work was being done without a permit.
At the same time, the village noticed the “scarlet red” paint selected by Siu (her favourite colour, one that she likens to the Canadian flag) and pointed to its design guidelines set out for revitalization and new construction.
The suggested look is part of the village’s bylaw for its development permit area, which covers all of the village’s business sector. It was originally introduced in 1982 but was amended many times since changes were last made in 1986.
Within the bylaw, under the design guidelines, the village requests building owners select “historical-themed” colours such as a rustic or muted red.
“The colours may be suggested, just as the document provides ‘guidelines,’ however, council still has the authority to approve or deny the development permit proposal as per the bylaw regulations,” explained Lila Cresswell, Fruitvale chief administrative officer.
“If the owner had taken out a building permit for the re-roofing, which was also required, then she would have been advised to have the development permit approved prior to purchasing or starting work.
“This is not a new process and many other businesses have complied with the guidelines over the years.”
But a quick glance around Fruitvale reveals there are some modern looking exteriors like a bright red colour scheme found at Petro Can, which Cresswell attributes to a former council.
Given Siu’s circumstance, Fruitvale council, or what remains of it during the holiday summer months, met for an emergency meeting to discuss the hold on the roof job. The village gave Siu the go ahead to complete the work but asked her to pay $200 for a review of the “scarlet red” selected come September when the full council reconvenes. At this time the village looks to update its development permit guidelines, too, a process that has been underway since last September with a total of three open houses held to gather public and business input.
Next month can’t some soon enough for Randy Moore, owner of Leather and Steel, a motorcycle gear business that has about six different locations, including the Fruitvale location off of 1st Street.
Moore also wasn’t aware of a theme, let alone a “Victorian” one when he made some upgrades to his building without a permit about a year ago.
“I simply said I wasn’t going to change,” he said. “I had read through (the document) and found contradictions within it.”
Moore paid for the village review but put his foot down when he changed the exterior of his building to a natural cedar, which is not viewed as appropriate under the village’s current guidelines.
“First off this is not a Victorian town, it doesn’t date back to the 1700s, no buildings were built in Victorian times,” he added. “Who came up with this asinine idea?”
The Villagers has completed the job now, all while gaining much support for its push to remain highlighted in a brighter shade with just over 150 signatures on its growing petition.
It’s more about the principle now, said Fuller, adding that much heartache was caused when Siu first received a stop order.
Cresswell presses that if a permit was taken out in the first place, the business owner would have learned of the village’s colour scheme from the get-go.
Siu has already spent over $10,000 on the job but could look at a heftier bill now if the village decides the building needs to be repainted.
“We spent a fortune already and then they came over and put a stop order,” he said. “I would have thought that you go to council and you get approved or you don’t, I didn’t know there was a fee.
Talk about a police painting job.”