British Columbia

Stink over 'huge, smelly outhouse' blocking lakeviews simmers in New Denver B.C.

When Jill Parry walks out the door of her New Denver home near the shores of Slocan Lake in the B.C. Interior her view is blocked by a "huge, smelly, concrete outhouse." She wants that to change.

'We didn’t buy lakefront property only to have an outhouse built in front of it,' says homeowner

Jill Parry says the Village of New Denver did not consult her or other property owners before bulding a public toilet blocking their lakefront view. (Jill Parry)

When Jill Parry walks out the door of her New Denver home near the shore of Slocan Lake in the B.C. Interior her view is blocked by a "huge, smelly, concrete outhouse."

She wants that to change.

The villager bought her piece of paradise in 2014. Two years later, she says the mayor decided to build an emergency public washroom — with no proper plumbing — between her house and the shore.

She said she was never consulted about the move and has spent two years fighting the "putrid eyesore" 15 metres from her front door in front of her view windows.

"The Village of New Denver has served us an injustice by putting a huge, smelly, concrete outhouse right there. We didn't buy lakefront property only to have an outhouse built in front of it," said Parry who disagrees with village staff who say building plans went through the usual public process.

"There was no discussion with the people affected. Why did they pick there?"

'I accept that an odour from the outhouse would have an effect on the property value,' says a decision by the Property Assessment Appeal Board. (Jill Parry)

A November decision by the Property Assessment Appeal Board (PAAB) confirmed the outhouse did reduce the property value, by up to 15 per cent.

The couple appealed, arguing the value was actually reduced by 25 per cent, but lost.

The decision noted that "when a breeze is blowing in the right direction there are noticeable odours," said the PAAB document.

But it also said that even before the outhouse was built in October 2016, the beach-access property was already in a busy spot near trails, canoe and kayak rentals and a launching and storage area.

"There is no evidence the addition of the outhouse has significantly increased the public presence in the area," it said.

But the couple is not giving up.

They've also filed a complaint with the ombudsman, claiming village staff did not follow proper consultation, affecting them and many other neighbours. 

Earlier this year, New Denver Mayor Ann Bunka told CBC the village had to act when it installed the outhouse.

"We had a problem with people going to the bathroom and leaving toilet paper and feces on the side of the trail and in the bushes.  We didn't think there was going to be any controversy, so we were quite surprised when there was," she said.

Bunka also pointed out that people who walk their dogs along the trail are thrilled with the washrooms and how much cleaner the area is now.

But Parry and her partner, Rob Lubig, aren't.

She said the village spent $15,000 on three similar "out-house style" washrooms along a local trail system, despite local demands for proper plumbing.

Lubig, who is a carpenter, offered to help build properly plumbed toilets.

Instead, Parry said, they now live with the bunker-style hole-in-the-ground toilets that "stink" in the summer and block views and make their deck unpleasant.

"We smell it everywhere. We smell it in our yard. In our house. They planted it right at the end of our driveway."

Slocan Lake is stunning in the summer, unless you have a big concrete toilet building blocking your view. (Kirk Williams/CBC)

With files from Bob Keating

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