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Canada Parents threatened with $100 fines for letting children play on Surrey townhouse lane

09:18  20 may  2020
09:18  20 may  2020 Source:   vancouversun.com

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a group of people posing for a photo: Jenna Liesch with husband Koby and their children, Jacob, 9, June, 8, Jed, 6, and Judah, 3. © Francis Georgian Jenna Liesch with husband Koby and their children, Jacob, 9, June, 8, Jed, 6, and Judah, 3.

Parents in a Surrey condo complex are being threatened with $100 fines if their children play on the lane next to their townhouses, the only place available while playgrounds remain closed because of COVID-19.

“We open our garage door and I sit on a lawn chair and watch the kids go back and forth,” said Jenna Liesch, who said her neighbours do the same. “Every child is monitored by his own parents.”

The Liesch children, Jacob, 9, June, 8, and Jed, 6, ride their bikes, and Judah, 3, who has cerebral palsy, joins them in his power chair.

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“He (Judah) is very motivated by his siblings on their bikes,” said Liesch. “He was in a walker for an hour and a half one day. You can tell from the look on his face how much he enjoys it.”

The family’s unit has a three-by-three metre back yard which at this time of year is a “mud pit” and in any case isn’t big enough or suitable for bikes or Judah’s walker. The other side of the building is too close to a busy street.

“This is the only way they can play outside right now,” she said.

“We’re not having a party,” said Keisha Phonsavatdy, who has three preschool children. “They’re just laughing and having fun.”

The week before Mother’s Day, the strata council sent a letter reminding the Lieschs that strata bylaws ban children from playing on the lane used by residents to get to their parking spots.

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A second letter, this time by courier, arrived a few days later, saying the council had “received complaints” about the noise.

“Council does understand these are not easy times for children,” it said, before adding it was obliged to uphold bylaws.

The letter said “the number of children has increased and it appears the group’s getting larger,” citing in particular the Friday before Mother’s Day.

It threatened a $100 fine for each occurrence.

Since then, the children have remained inside. “They’re long days,” said Liesch.

Leisch said she intends to challenge the bylaw, which was passed years ago before many families moved in, but that can’t be done until the annual general meeting in November.

“What we’re asking for, what we’re begging for, is to at least allow the kids to use the lane until the parks are open,” she said.

Phonsavatdy said the families are open to time-of-day restrictions and supervision requirements. Both she and Liesch said children move out of the way when cars need to pass, which they say is a small inconvenience.

Asked if the strata would consider a reprieve during the pandemic, Scott Ponuick, president of Peninsula Strata Management, said by email that the “council cannot change the bylaws or amend any bylaw without a general meeting and approval of the owners.”

Leisch contacted her MP, Tamara Jansen, and her MLA, Stephanie Cadieux, both of whom sympathized with the parents.

“I can understand the strata council being concerned about safety and liability issues but I would hope that the strata members could work together to work something out for themselves,” she told Postmedia.

“Certainly we are in unique times. People need to put some things aside. Kids need to be able to play,” she said.

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