Advertisement

Decision to allow known Edmonton landlord to build a basement suite could have been avoided: lawyer

WATCH ABOVE: A group of central Edmonton residents is disappointed they lost an appeal against a local basement suite. As Vinesh Pratap explains, a city lawyer suggests changes could be made.

EDMONTON — A well-known inner city landlord was given the right to rent out yet another suite after the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board rejected an appeal Thursday,  to a decision to allow the man to build a secondary suite in the basement of a home in the area of 112 Avenue and 86 Street. Global News has discovered there may have been a way a decision in favour of the community league could have been made.

It’s an issue that has persisted for over a decade in the Parkdale Cromdale area: unkempt properties, unruly tenants, illegal activity, and often unsafe conditions have been a huge concern for members of the community.

The area residents were not opposing the fact that there would be a basement suite in their neighbourhood. They want to know why the city would allow a man known to be linked to various properties that have been visited by bylaw officers, police, as well as health and safety services, to manage another rental space.

Story continues below advertisement

The property in question is owned by Abdullah Shah, previously known as Carmen Pervez. Pervez is associated with other properties in the neighbourhood. Global News has learned two of the properties have been declared unfit for human habitation.

 

Pervez’s properties, which he has been known to say he generally rents out to people who would otherwise be homeless, have been under media scrutiny for years now.

In 2008, when Pervez was convicted of a $30-million mortgage fraud; he continues to be accused of failing to maintain the many properties he owns.

“Obviously there’s a disconnect between the city and the community,” said Robert Noce, corporate commercial lawyer and former City of Edmonton Councillor.

“The city is obviously not dealing with the issues that the community has raised previous to this SDAB hearing, which required the community to have their voice before a SDAB hearing.”

READ MORE: Central Edmonton residents lose fight against landlord with criminal history

City of Edmonton staff members have said the use, not the user, of an application is what is currently taken into consideration when a new development project is being considered. An owner’s history is not factored in. Because the area is zoned for a secondary suite, they say there is nothing they could do. Noce says the permit could have been refused.

Story continues below advertisement
“The development officer could have said no [because the decision was discretionary], but said yes because felt that the use was perfectly legitimate in the community….There are ways under the zoning bylaw that could give the development officer greater direction in terms of how they should exercise their discretion in these type of scenarios,” he said.

“They chose to ignore that element of the zoning bylaw, and simply exercise their discretion in favour of the bylaw. But, it’s clear that there are significant issues in the community that require the attention of the city.”

Noce explained that bylaw provisions can be strengthened by council under the zoning bylaw. Doing so could give the development officers more direction as to how they should exercise their discretion. Other bylaws such as the community standards bylaw that deals with properties that are in poor state, could also have been be used for the decision, Noce said.

“Maybe those bylaws needs to be strengthened and greater authority could be given to bylaw officers to deal with some of the issues that the community is being faced with,” said Noce.

“If the city is truly committed to encouraging young families and others to live in mature neighbourhoods so that we can slow down the growth in our suburban areas and create a more dense core,” Noce added, “they have to make a concerted effort to deal with the issues that occur in our core.”

Story continues below advertisement

Noce believes the issue, if unaddressed, is only going to get worse.

“Council, from a planning perspective, and also from a bylaw perspective in terms of enforcing the rules under the community standards bylaw, need to get more aggressive with these type of scenarios,” he said.

The reasons behind the appeal board’s decision will be released on the City’s website August 21.

With files from Vinesh Pratap, Global News.