Letter re: "Explosion in Gabriola home sends one woman to hospital" in Dec. 8 Sounder

Monday, December 15 2014

Last week the Sounder published a report titled, “Explosion sends woman to hospital.” The fire department gave a summary of the events and an opinion of the cause as being a probable steam explosion. 

At no point was there any mention that the stove was faulty or incorrectly installed or that the structure of the building was in some way to blame for the explosion. It is self-evident that if the integrity of the building was not effected by what is described as a powerful interior explosion then the building itself was safe.

Thereafter, the RDN director holds the owner responsible for all these events and the injury to the victim. 

The director states, “This unfortunate event is an example of an innocent non-resident of the property being seriously injured as a result of the actions of another.” 

That statement has no basis in fact and no evidence to support it. 

All the owner wanted to do was to live in a small footprint, ecologically efficient home that was safe and affordable - in other words, he wanted to live rural. 

In this case nobody has stated the structure was unsafe in any way, and the building was unoccupied at the time of the explosion.

I think that this situation is arbitrary and unfair because a short distance away on Mudge Island it is safe to build without permit or inspection of any material available. 

I am informed that the RDN will eventually take on their building inspection duties on Mudge, despite the fact that Mudge residents have paid taxes to the RDN for years for this safety-related, important (on Gabriola) service. 

The building permit system is not evenly applied on Gabriola. It is a fact that if one does not obtain a permit and gets away with it for a period of time, or lives on Mudge, a permit is no longer required and no action is taken by the RDN, but as we can see if you are open and honest then robust enforcement action is taken.

So in fact safety is not the main factor, but as anyone in the building permit system will tell you it is probably about money.

Building permits may be necessary and important as long as they are evenly administered throughout the regional district and there is no attempt to obtain compliance by bullying and discrediting anyone based on misinformation. 

I have visited many amazing dwellings on Denman Island and Hornby Island - neither island has building inspection and there is no evidence that these communities are any more unsafe than Gabriola, but quite the opposite.

This community has come together to help the injured victim. The property owner will now also need help and support. He already has mine.

This was truly a very unfortunate accident and I wish all involved a speedy recovery from their physical and physiological trauma. 

~ Peter Phillips