By the time Langley City resident Kim Choiniere realized a front yard fence built to keep her kids safe was roughly three feet over her property line, she’d spent $16,000 to build it.
A realtor’s virtual tour video shows the solid-looking fence had been constructed with bricks and concrete.
Choiniere said she offered the City a compromise that would delay demolishing the fence, but after months of back-and-forth emails, a crew showed up and tore it down, and her next-door neighbour’s fence as well.
Choiniere said she had the fence put in as a safety measure, after her children’s therapy dog was killed by a speeding driver in the 20900 block of 48th avenue, in front of their house.
Her five-year-old son and eight-year-old daughter are both “special needs” kids who can be oblivious to their surroundings and at risk of wandering into the street, she explained.
Before she resorted to building the fence, Choiniere said she approached the City about speed bumps and was told none were planned for her street in the immediate future, and said she also asked the RCMP about speed enforcement, only to be told “they didn’t have the manpower.”
Choiniere said she had assumed her property line ended roughly where the municipal sidewalk began, but that turned out to be about three feet past the property line.
Moving the fence back was not an option, she maintains, because she would no longer be able to use her driveway to park.
“I said, no problem, I’ll pay [the fine],” Choiniere recalled.
“Let me pay you to use City property.”
She said other houses, not far from hers, also appeared to have gone past their property lines with their fences, as well, but haven’t been the target of City enforcement.
After several months of back-and-forth emails, one day in late September, a City crew showed up and took the whole fence down.
“I think it is poor form, not to work with the community,” Choiniere remarked.
Now, she and her husband have a tentative deal to sell their house and move.
“Everything I look at now [must be a] cul-de-sac, [one that] already has fencing,” she commented.
As Choiniere was speaking in front of her house on Saturday, Oct. 31, several cars that appeared to be well over the speed limit whipped by.
“They’re making my point,” she said.
READ ALSO: Curbing speeding in Langley City
A City email to Choiniere provided to the Langley Advance Times shows she was given final notice in August that she would have to take the fence down or the City would do it for her in September.
Another City email, to a Choiniere supporter, said there was a complaint from a resident, and upon investigation it was determined that both property owners, Choiniere and her neighbour, had installed fences and “substantial electronic gate structures” within the road right of way.
The road right of way, the email went on to explain, is not considered as part of a home owner’s property – it is public property and “used for municipal and infrastructure purposes such as servicing each property with road access, sewer, water, hydro, communication and gas services.”