The tree house is shaped like a pirate ship. Dewberry spent almost $2,500 building it in his front yard.
A Vancouver architect took his fight to save his children's pirate-themed treehouse to city hall on Monday.
Andrew Dewberry says he built the $2,500 treehouse in a cedar tree for his two young boys with the approval of the city -- permission granted over the phone -- and he's not going to take it down without a fight.
"This has ramifications well beyond where we are," said Dewberry outside court, whose arguments and court filings include appeals to international law.
As far as treehouses go, Dewberry's is the deluxe version -- a 45 square foot pirate ship, complete with cannons, perched in a cedar in Vancouver's tony Kerrisdale.
But two years ago, the trouble began. Dewberry had built the treehouse without a permit, and a neighbour didn't approve of how it blocked her view.
She complained to the city. When Dewberry tried to apply for the permit after the fact, he was refused.
Last year, the city's board of variance ordered that the treehouse be removed and gave the family 30 days to do so.
At the time, Dewberry said he was "blindsided" by the ruling, so he took the city to court.
His wife, Jayne Seagrave, says she can't understand why the city is fighting this hard to take down their treehouse.
The couple is representing themselves, but for the city the legal price is steep. Seagrave estimated that the court fees alone would be as much as $60,000, and the city's legal expenses might be as high as $20,000.
"We're in provincial court for three days and we can't really work out why we're here on this issue," she said.
The city maintains the treehouse is not a simple tree fort -- it's a structure, and the couple is failing to comply with an order to remove it.
In their own defence, Dewberry and Seagrave insist before they started building they were told on the phone by someone at city hall that they didn't need a permit -- so now they're fighting as a matter of principle, for tree forts everywhere.
The neighbour who launched the original complaint, Janice McShane, wouldn't comment on Monday.