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TA ruling appealed

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Despite losing a B.C. Supreme Court case against the Resort Municipality of Whistler, it’s still business as usual for a Prince George couple who rent out their second home in Millars Pond to tourists.

And, it could be that way for another year.

Whistler took the Prince George dentists to court for renting their property on a sort-term basis. The RMOW maintained this was in violation of the residential zoning for the neighbourhood.

The case was heard Feb. 17, 2000 in a one-day trial last year, but it took Supreme Court justice Ian Drost almost a year to hand down his decision. On Jan. 15 this year Drost awarded the municipally a permanent injunction, banning the couple from renting their home on a short-term basis.

The couple, however, has since filed a notice of appeal and an application to stay execution of the injunction pending a decision on the appeal.

"So right now, it’s business as usual," said Vicki Miller.

Legal counsel for Miller and Michael Rivera say it could take another year before the appeal is even heard.

But RMOW administrator Jim Godfrey said, even thought the courts are backed up, he is hopeful the appeal could be heard as early as this fall.

The Miller-Rivera case was among a total of 25 legal actions launched by the municipality in 1999 against 33 of the higher profile properties being used for tourist accommodation in residential neighbourhoods.

It remains to be seen whether the municipality will now aggressively pursue prosecution of the remaining "violators" or wait until the outcome of the appeal. Godfrey said staff were due to meet with municipal lawyers Tuesday, Feb. 6. They will then meet with council in camera to decide on a course of action.

Miller and Rivera consider their Clifftop Lane property to be their second home. In the court case last year they testified they live there for at least one week during each month of the year and they spend most of their holidays there as well.

The dentists often allow friends and family members to stay in their house, always without charge. They have held several office "retreats" during which they and their employees stay at the house for one-week periods. As well, they have provided "bonuses" to their office staff in the form of free one-week stays at the house.

The couple also admitted to the court that they make the house available for individual stays of less than four consecutive weeks and for a total of less than 70 days per year.

These uses, ruled Drost, are in contravention of the residential zoning bylaw.

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