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Monastery trespass to be corrected

Driveway reconstruction underway to bypass neighbour's property



The building is an award winner set in a quiet majestic forest in the Upper Squamish Valley, but the driveway to the Queen of Peace Monastery crosses another property. Technically, everyone who visits the monastery has to trespass to get there.

For that reason, the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) hasn't issued a final occupancy permit for the building, which can house about a dozen people. The 2,230 square metre (24,000 square foot) monastery was completed in the summer of 2012 and a feast was held Aug. 8 of that year to celebrate the 17-month construction period.

SLRD Area D director Mo Freitag was invited but didn't attend and hasn't been to the monastery since he learned the driveway to the Catholic monastery was mistakenly built on a neighbouring property.

"I don't feel I should go there because I don't have legal access," said Freitag.

He felt at the time that if he attended the very first feast at the monastery it would send the wrong message.

"It's not appropriate," he said.

Freitag insisted a building without a final occupancy permit shouldn't be inhabited.

"People do it all the time but the reality is, it puts everyone in a bad spot," he said.

While the monastery has been inhabited since 2012 it has taken until now to sort out the driveway mistake.

Peter Ufford is the monastery spokesperson and he said efforts to reach the owners of the effected neighbouring property fell short, so the driveway is being realigned.

"There were three options presented as possible ways of remedying the situation," said Ufford. "One was to buy a slice of land from the neighbour, another was easement and the other was realignment."

Because the owners of the neighbouring property didn't respond to requests to discuss the situation, the decision was made to move the driveway.

Ufford said the driveway is in the floodplain, so the original plans for the monastery were to eventually raise the driveway. The portion of the driveway on the neighbouring property is a small sliver, according to Ufford.

"We always planned to build it up anyways so if we're going to go to the expense of building it up, we're just going to correct that so there are no issues down the road," he said.

A contract has been awarded for the work and, according to Ufford, it should be done by the end of July.

About 10 nuns, who make up part of a Catholic order called the Dominicans, live at the monastery.