Dysart building official says hands are tied with Haliburton Forest

By Angelica Ingram

In the weeks following news of a recent court decision ordering the Haliburton Forest and Wild Life Reserve to remove buildings it had constructed without proper building permits speculation has swirled over the future of the local business and events such as the Forest Festival.

After it was announced by Forest owner/operator Peter Schleifenbaum that this year’s Forest Festival a multi-day music festival would be cancelled chief building official for Dysart Dan Sayers submitted a statement to the paper in the hopes of clearing up some misconceptions.

Sayers wrote to the paper that some have the impression that the municipality has not tried to work with the Forest to resolve these issues.

“In the spring of 2015 I applied to the Superior Court for an order directing compliance with the Building Code Act” Sayers said in his statement. “My decision to apply to the courts was to obtain a fair and impartial decision free of any local influences.”

The CBO suggests everyone read the court’s ruling in full before commenting on the situation.

“In this case Haliburton Forest did have time to resolve some of these issues” says Sayers. “They were aware that building permits were required for the Logging Museum and the addition to the Sawmill before the court action was started but chose not to comply. They also had an opportunity to do something before the case came before the judge.”

Sayers further states that as a CBO it is his legal obligation to enforce the building code something that is provincially legislated and applicable to all in Ontario. The issues at hand regard health and safety which must be taken seriously says Sayers.

“Neither I nor council have authority to issue a building permit for something that is not in compliance with the building code. At the meeting on March 18 Mr. Schleifenbaum demanded that we issue a permit for the Logging Museum as constructed or he would locate his bio-char project elsewhere.

Basically suggesting that council break the law.”

Sayers said the Forest has appealed the judge’s decision and he believes the proper forum to settle the matter is in court.

On Feb. 5 the Superior Court of Ontario ruled that the Forest demolish the buildings it had constructed without proper building permits and that no one enter into the buildings including the Logging Museum.