Family protest pending eviction from Karratha LIA

Alicia PereraPilbara News
Aaliyah Dolphin, 11, Russell Dolphin, Candra Matla and Ebony Dolphin, 7, outside their house in the LIA.
Camera IconAaliyah Dolphin, 11, Russell Dolphin, Candra Matla and Ebony Dolphin, 7, outside their house in the LIA. Credit: Alicia Perera

A family living in Karratha’s light industrial area —an area which accommodated “hundreds” of people during the mining boom — has started a petition in protest at being told to leave their property within 28 days, a development that has left other LIA residents concerned they will also be evicted.

Local government authority the City of Karratha has been auditing properties in the LIA since 2016 to review their compliance with planning laws, and while most of the area’s residential properties have been inspected, it is believed the Dolphin family is the first to receive an eviction notice.

Galvins Plumbing employees Candra Matla and Russell Dolphin, who along with their children have been living on the business’ industrial lot as caretakers for almost eight years, said “many” other remaining LIA residents were in properties that did not comply with caretaker dwelling requirements and were worried they would also be asked to leave.

“The consensus (from LIA residents) is that (the City) allowed all these thins to happen... and now they want to revoke on it all because there’s no longer a boom,” Mrs Matla said.

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“In the boom it was fine, you could do what you wanted, there was a caravan on every corner, and now that the boom’s done and we went through a downturn they want revoke on it all, and I don’t think that’s okay. And that’s pretty much what I’ve heard from everybody on (the petition), they’re saying they all feel the same.”

The family became caretakers on the Galvins Plumbing lot during the mining boom, first living in a one-bedroom dwelling and later, upon having a second child, in a larger adjacent office converted into a 120sqm two-bedroom home, which the family and property owner David Galvin believe was done with the knowledge of the then-Shire of Roebourne.

They are so far refusing to heed the eviction notice for the latter home, which requires them to leave in 28 days or be fined or $25,000 a day or up to $200,000 , and have so far collected 151 signatures on their petition.

Mrs Matla said the family loved living in the area and did not want to lose their long-term home.

“As far as the kids are concerned, it’s all (youngest daughter) Ebony has ever known — she’s only known this home,” she said.

“We don’t have other family in town so we literally have nowhere else to go, and not within 28 days.”

City of Karratha Mayor Peter Long said under City and State Government planning regulations, residents were not permitted to live in industrial zone areas other than in compliant caretaker dwellings, including during the mining boom.

“If people have built any kind of residential dwelling other than a compliant caretaker’s dwelling in the LIA in the past for the purposes of living in, then those buildings either haven’t been approved or have been approved for different purposes,” he said.

Cr Long said the City was working with property owners to address non-compliance issues in the LIA and “in many cases” had helped them obtain retrospective approvals “where appropriate”.

He said costs associated with becoming compliant must be paid by the relevant property owners, not the City.

According to City planning regulations, only one 100sqm, single-bedroom caretaker dwelling is permitted per lot in the industrial area.

Mr Galvin, who owns Galvins Plumbing, said he supported the family’s bid to stay and was concerned about what they would do if they had to leave.

“We’re just asking (the City) to be fair. We are not doing anything wrong with the property and there’s a family there who have been there a long time,” he said.

The City was unable to provide information on the number of residents in the LIA, but it is believed to be at least 30-40 and possibly significantly more.

LIA resident and RGR Road Haulage employee Rodney Trouchet said he was concerned the Dolphin family’s predicament could create a precedent for other residents to be evicted.

“I just think it’s unfair that when it was a Shire they got approval to do it, and now it’s become a City and changed hands they’ve been asked to leave,” he said.

“It’s sad for someone who has been here for so long. It’s not the right thing to do, I don’t think.”

North West Tree Services owner Noel Wright, a long-term LIA home owner, said while he supported the City’s push for better compliance, the move could have significant costs for business owners and needed to be handled carefully.

The Dolphin family plans to submit the petition to the City council and State Parliament in coming weeks.

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