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He requested an emotional support dog but his Vancouver strata shot it down. A tribunal agreed

The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal upheld a Vancouver strata's decision to deny a man an emotional support dog on the grounds that he didn't provide enough information
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B.C.'s Human Rights Tribunal has rejected a Vancouver man's request to have his strata building allow him to have an emotional support dog, despite providing a doctor's letter of support for the animal

A Vancouver man whose strata council refused to allow him to have an emotional support dog has failed in his bid to have the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal overturn the decision.

William Lylack, 67, alleges that the Nelson Street strata discriminated against him as an owner and resident when it refused his request to have a dog in his unit as a support for physical and mental disabilities.

He told the tribunal a dog would add structure and purpose to his life and help him avoid isolation; having a dog, he said, would require outdoor social exposure.

Lylack said the ban is a violation of B.C.’s Human Rights Code based on age, physical and mental disability.

In addition to the strata, Lilac named in the complaint Rancho Management Services as well as Rancho agent and rental property manager Jeff Gelfer.

Those respondents applied to have the complaint dismissed, saying Lylack’s complaint had no prospect of succeeding. They said they repeatedly asked Lylack to provide further information to support his request, but he declined to do so. Based on the limited information provided by Lylack, the respondents added they could not permit a no-pets bylaw exemption.

Lylack first applied to the strata council for an exemption in May 2019, saying the code allowed for such a thing and that he had support from his doctor.

In a letter, Lylack's doctor said he felt a support animal would “greatly improve his chances of fully managing the symptoms of his illness.”

The strata council examined the request but decided it needed more information, such as a prescription rather than just a support letter.

Lylack responded saying he was informed the doctor's letter was enough.

Again, the rental property manager asked for further information and asked if Lylack would like to address the strata council, giving him a list of information the council needed to consider an exemption.

Lylack refused, saying he had a right to privacy, adding the onus was being put on him to defend an accommodation request.

The council ultimately denied the exemption request.

Lylack later produced another letter from his doctor, who once again backed Lylack's request for a support animal.

That letter noted Lylack has “severe generalized anxiety disorder and depression” and “chronic pain from severe shoulder arthritis.”

The strata believed that, while the letter provided more detail, it didn’t illustrate why Lylack needed an animal.

The council would later propose pet bylaw amendments and debate them at a February 2020 annual general meeting.

In her Jan. 25 decision, B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Kathleen Smith said it was reasonable for the strata to request more information from Lylack.

Smith also cautioned the strata about being overly strict about requesting information.

jhainsworth@glaciermedia.ca

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