Judge sides with city in logging truck dispute

A logging truck company owner is no longer allowed to park his vehicles on a residential Prince George property, says a B.C. Supreme Court Justice.

In a ruling issued Friday, Justice Ron Tindale did not accept John Christenson's claim that he had "verbal licence" from city hall to park the trucks at 2957 and 2971 Andres Road.

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Christenson, 61, has operated J.O. Trucking since 1984 and initially rented the 2957 property before buying it in 1987. In 2004, he and his common law wife bought the neighbouring 2971 property where they live.

Christenson claimed that prior to buying the 2957 property, he talked to two neighbours who said he could park his trucks at the site and that he and his father went to city hall, where they were told he could park his heavy vehicles there.

Christenson also testified that when a city bylaw enforcement officer visited the property in 1986, he told her he was "grandfathered" regarding the parking and never heard from her again.

The next time the issue came up was in 2009, some 23 years later, when another bylaw officer came by in response to a complaint from a neighbour, particularly about noise coming from the site.

Christenson testified he agreed there was a lot of noise coming from the property and put a stop to it. However, he continued to park heavy trucks on the site, prompting further complaints from the neighbour who also asserted the activity at the location was getting worse.

In his decision, Tindale noted Christenson had no documentation to support his claim and called his evidence "extremely vague."

Tindale found Christenson's arguments regarding what was said at city hall "improbable," noting the applicable bylaws go back to 1980. Tindale also did not agree with Christenson's assertion that the city "somehow acquiesced to the present situation" because it took so long between the 1986 visit by a bylaw officer and the second one in 2009.

Tindale also did not accept Christenson's version of the conversation with the bylaw officer in 1986. Even if it did occur, Tindale said the evidence is that he had only one truck on the site at the time compared to the seven to 11 trucks he runs today.

"Consequently, even if there was such a discussion in 1986, it did not relate to the situation that now exists on the property with the many tractors and trailers parked there," Tindale said.

Whether the two other neighbours told Christenson he could park his trucks and trailers on the property is of little consequence, Tindale also said. "They clearly have no authority to grant such permission," Tindale said.

Tindale ordered that Christenson cease carrying out any repairs to his trucks and trailers on the property, prohibited them from parking more than four vehicles on either site, limited the time they can park their trucks and trailers on the property to three hours between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. and prohibited them from parking trucks and trailers there overnight.

If they're parked there for too long during the day or parked there overnight, Tindale said bylaw officers have the authority to seize the equipment and apply to the court to put it up for sale with the proceeds going to the city.

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