MAXIMEVILLE - For the Inderwick family of Ottawa, a trip to P.E.I. usually means less politics and more relaxing, but not this year.
Andrew and Lisa Inderwick spent last Thursday in Charlottetown at a hearing with the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission (IRAC). They are fighting to build on one of their properties in Maximeville, a lot the province has deemed unsuitable. Provincial officials say the property is a wetland, despite the Inderwicks previously being told otherwise.
“(IRAC) heard both sides very openly and fairly. We said our piece and we really felt that we were heard,” said Lisa. “It’s out of our hands and we will deal with whatever decision they make.”
Before purchasing land nine years ago, the couple ensured they could build on the 135-foot by 90-foot property without issue.
“We went to Access P.E.I. and told them what we wanted to do, both in the short-term and in the long-term,” said Andrew. “We asked them, what are the steps we need to take to protect ourselves?”
In 2004, they were told not to make a purchase unless the property meets the requirements to receive a building permit – it did, they say.
“(The wetland inspector) came in and did all their tests. They marked ‘no wetlands’ on the papers. In our mind we did our due diligence. It never, ever occurred to us that we’d have a problem,” said Andrew.
Flash forward to 2009, when the headaches began for the Inderwicks.
When they were looking to begin work on the vacant lot, an inspector checked the land and told the couple it may be a wetland.
“That wasn’t fair because we bought the property on a condition to build here. We also had government permits that said it wasn’t a wetland.”
It’s been an expensive journey for the family, spending $12,000 on property maintenance and legal council over the past several years.
“We put fill down and then we were threatened with fines to remove it, so we had to pay to get it taken away.”
Aside from the legal battle, the Inderwicks still have great things to say about the province after falling in love with the ‘Gentle Island’ following their first visit 12 years ago.
“The very first day we were here, we arrived on a Sunday, a lady came by with a meatpie and said, ‘You probably didn’t know there was no Sunday shopping here, so I brought you some supper,’” said Lisa.
The family doesn’t want locals to get the wrong idea about them. They said they’re not against wetlands and aren’t attempting to hurt the environment.
“We don’t have any problem saying P.E.I. needs to protect its resources. This place is an absolute jewel.”
Right now the future is on hold for the family. If they win the court battle, they plan to build, eventually, but if they lose, everything becomes an unknown.
Andrew hopes other residents can learn from his case and ensure they are protected.
“If you made an investment as part of your retirement plans and suddenly that property becomes untouchable, that’s a problem.”
For now, the family is on standby, waiting for that simple yes or no answer that will surely impact the rest of their days on P.E.I.