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'We're stuck': Winnipeg family's renovation stalled by permit issues


A St. Norbert family hoped their basement renovations would be wrapping up by midsummer, but a series of permit-related issues have stalled the project.

The framing is up, the water is running, and the lights are on; however, renovations in Ryan Kirkness' basement are at a standstill.

"Our renovation has been on hold since mid-April, so we were hoping this was all, not all, but a good portion was going to be done for summer,” Kirkness said.

Kirkness bought the St. Norbert bungalow in 2005.

Now, with his two daughters reaching their teenage years, Kirkness decided it was the perfect time to renovate the basement.

"Two bedrooms for the girls to come downstairs, redo the laundry room, and the big thing would be a new washroom,” he said.

In April, Kirkness sent in permit applications for a basement renovation, including plumbing and electrical.

He was also aware he would probably need a waterway permit due to the property’s distance from the Red River.

"The waterway permit is made to protect the riverbanks, the flow of it, that type of thing,” Kirkness explained.

However, Kirkness was informed he needed an additional permit to meet code --- an issue compounded by flood protection requirements.

One issue has to do with the need for basement-level bedroom windows that must be large enough to exit in the event of an emergency.

To meet those regulations, Kirkness would need a costly engineer’s report to show expanded windows would not increase flood risk to the property. By his estimation that report would add thousands to the renovation cost.

He argued, if flood waters did reach the house – which hasn’t happened since 1997 --- it wouldn’t matter what kind of windows were in place.

"If the water's coming on the flood, it doesn't matter if it’s this high or this high. It's going to come in,” Kirkness said.

In a statement, the city said if proposed work falls within the floodway fringe area, then homeowners are responsible for meeting the requirements of the designated floodway fringe area regulation.

“The city is not obligated to approve permits where requirements for floodproofing have not been met. This protects the dwelling, neighbouring buildings, and future homeowners,” the spokesperson said.

Earlier this month, Kirkness withdrew the structural permit application for the window change, but is still waiting for the other permits to be issued.

"As for now, we're stuck. Our total renovation's on hold,” he said.

Kirkness said the whole situation has been a disappointing learning experience.

"I was doing it with the permits. I was doing it the right way, and so many people have always told me, the city's so tough to deal with. Just go do it on your own. Don't bother. And I was hoping to say, ‘Nope, it actually worked out really well.’ I can't,” he said.

Because he withdrew the window permit, Kirkness said the bedrooms will now be used as office space. Top Stories

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