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Sydney businessman ordered to pay for destruction of garage

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SYDNEY, N.S. —

A Sydney businessman and his company have been ordered to pay all costs associated with the destruction and disposal of a garbage along with paying $6,000 in fees to the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.

Supreme Court Justice Frank Edwards issued an order in late January requiring Ronald Smith, owner of Smith’s Towing, to pay all costs associated with the destruction of a garage on his property at 1341 George Street.

The municipality brought the action against Smith after repeated attempts to have him comply with the land-use bylaw.

Edwards heard two-days of evidence before rendering his decision.

The problem between the municipality and Smith began back in December 2012 after Smith was granted a permit to construct a garage on his property. Smith, in writing, assured municipal officials the garage would only be used for personal use and would not be associated with his commercial business of vehicle towing.

But what followed were repeated violations cited by the municipality including the parking of more than one vehicle on the site and using the garage for his vehicle repair work.

Smith was eventually charged and convicted under the Municipal Government Act but the violations persisted.

The municipality continued to receive complaints and frequent site visits showed a chip wagon truck, two towing vehicles, three derelict vehicles and a commercial trailer being stored on the property.

Again, municipal planning department officials met with Smith to discuss the situation and were given assurances the problems would be rectified.

In September 2018, the municipality turned to the courts for relief, seeking an order to destroy the garage.

Smith did testify at the trial and Edwards concluded he did not believe Smith’s evidence.

Smith testified the vehicles were on a neighbour’s property and he had permission to park there. He would identify the neighbour during his testimony.

“I am also satisfied beyond any doubt that the respondent (Smith) does commercial work in his garage. The evidence satisfies me that Smith always intended to use the garage for his towing business,” ruled Edwards.

“He had no hesitation in signing undertakings or making promises he had no intention of honouring,” he said.

Edwards ruled that Smith had repeatedly showed he could not be trusted to comply with the bylaws and his solemn promises were meaningless.

“Telling the truth or honouring his promises are not priorities for Mr. Smith. The only realistic solution to the problem is to order the destruction of the garage,” concluded Edwards.

He said Smith was given plenty of opportunity to bring the business into compliance but deliberately chose to ignore the bylaw provisions.

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