After nearly six years, Jerry Kaiser is declaring victory against the Rural Municipality of Baildon in his fight over a monument he built that he dedicated to pioneer women.
“It’s a big relief. People have the right to express themselves artistically, which I did with that installation (Monument to Matrons). But more important, it gives recognition to the women settlers of the Baildon district,” he said. “They went through an awful lot of privation in the early years, so they deserve recognition.”
“Even though they could have written it off six years ago, they continued to harass me at a cost of $100,000 to them,” he added. “Then, in the end, they allowed me to have it, so it was a waste of time and money on their part.”
Kaiser constructed a concrete pad on his property in April 2016, intending to have the monument ready by Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017, according to a Court of Queen’s Bench (QB) decision from 2019.
The rural municipality advised him that he needed a development permit, which was free to obtain. However, he refused, and the organization issued a stop-work order on April 20, 2017, followed by a lien on May 7, 2017.
Kaiser then appealed that order to QB — and other orders that Baildon issued.
“For some reason, to Baildon administrators and councillors, it was not a triumph of feminism but an irritant to be destroyed,” he said. “They spent thousands of dollars on an expensive lawyer to defend their misogyny. Now, after six years, the RM has exhausted all the minutiae and approved the ‘Monument to Matrons.’”
On Jan. 19, Baildon’s legal counsel, Lauren Wihak, sent Kaiser a letter — a copy of which he provided — about his monument. This letter was in response to correspondence he sent on Dec. 8, 2021, where he wanted written confirmation that his monument was compliant with zoning and development bylaws and no further enforcement would be taken.
“We can advise on behalf of Baildon that no further enforcement steps will be taken in relation to the monument or the related stop-work order, and Baildon is prepared to consider the monument complaint,” Wihak wrote.
However, she added, Baildon reserved the right to address future developments or bylaw contraventions that might arise on Kaiser’s property, whether with the monument or otherwise.
Kaiser’s next objective with his monument is to give it a “triumphal arch of some kind,” he added. His goal is to finish the structure by Tuesday, June 21 — the summer solstice.
If Kaiser wants to modify his monument, he will need to acquire a permit from the RM office, explained administrator Carol Bellefeuille. Development permits are free, while a third-party company handles building permits and reviews them.
“He doesn’t have any permits here in the office, so going forward, I guess if he wanted to, he could put in a development permit,” she added. “From that time, we could send it off and see if it’s compliant … . If it wasn’t, what he would have to do to make it compliant, he would be told.”
While Kaiser has declared victory in this battle, he is still working to be reinstated as division 5 councillor of the RM of Baildon. He is appealing his suspension to the Court of Queen’s Bench and is confident he will be successful.
“It could take a long time. But I’m not concerned,” he said. “I waited six years to achieve the recognition for the women of the community, and I’m in it for the long haul.”