Posted by: Daryl & Wendy Ashby | June 3, 2010

How to Skin a Cat

One of the most expensive houses in Canada — a waterfront Uplands home listed for sale a year ago at more than $28 million — is now a consulate for St. Kitts and Nevis, two lush Caribbean Islands.

The 15,900-square-foot home, called Sweet Pea, is set on a hectare of land with more than 450 metres of waterfront. The house at 3195 Humber Rd. was featured by us earlier this year and offers 7 bedrooms, an indoor swimming pool and spa, doors covered in gold leaf, manicured grounds, a desalination plant and an enhanced security system that slides shutters over windows at the touch of a button. When it was listed by Sotheby’s International, it was advertised as having a media room that would suit the likes of movie mogul Steven Spielberg.

It also has a colourful local history. It was formerly owned by Frank Hertel, who fled to Venezuela and Germany in 1986 after being charged with conspiring to evade $1.2 million in back taxes under the federal scientific research tax-credit program.

He was arrested in London in May 2009 and is to be extradited to Canada to face the criminal charges.

The current owners of the house are Pamela and Todd Axelrod. The couple had the house on the market with Sotheby’s, but it is no longer on that company’s website. According to documents filed at the municipality of Oak Bay, a business licence for the property was issued two months ago.

Although it is zoned single-family residential, a home-based business is permitted, said Oak Bay chief administrative officer Mark Brennan.

The licence application states that business is done by telephone, fax and computer. The business does not qualify the property for tax breaks, Brennan said.

Outside the gated house is a flagpole with the flag of St. Kitts and Nevis and a gold plaque saying it is the consulate for the islands. Consulates generally provide aid and information for people from that country.

John Allen, the honorary consul general for St. Kitts and Nevis in Toronto, said the Victoria office would raise the profile of the country in Canada. Allen said Toronto, Victoria and the High Commission in Ottawa are the three consulates for St. Kitts and Nevis in Canada.

He did not know why Victoria was chosen.

“I had no idea it was there,” said Oak Bay Mayor Christopher Causton. “Perhaps it should be mandatory for the mayor to personally go to St. Kitts and Nevis.”

Such consulates are common in residential area of larger government cities, such as Ottawa.

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