Cowichan Valley Regional District to appeal to Canada’s highest court on crematorium

The Cowichan Valley Regional District is appealing to the Supreme Court of Canada to overturn the recent BC Court of Appeal decision allowing commercial use of the Paldi crematorium.

"The decision of the BC Court of Appeal is concerning as it has the potential to impact the interpretation of allowable uses in other CVRD zoning bylaws, as well as in zoning bylaws across B.C.," CVRD board chair Rob Hutchins said in a press release.

"Due to the contrasting approach taken by the BC Court of Appeal in deciding the matter and questions with respect to how the court applied certain principals of law, the CVRD board believes that it is appropriate to appeal the ruling through the Supreme Court of Canada."

The Paldi Khalsa Diwan Society and their tenant, Cowichan Valley Crematorium Ltd., filed a BC Supreme Court action against the CVRD in 2013, following refusal by the CVRD to issue a document to them confirming that the crematorium was permitted by CVRD bylaws.

The BC Supreme Court judge ruled in favour of the CVRD, however, a subsequent appeal filed by the Paldi Khalsa Diwan Society and Cowichan Valley Crematorium Ltd. led to another decision Aug. 26.

In that one, the Court of Appeal ruled in favour of the appellants, finding that the crematorium was an "institution" that served public needs, which was permitted in the P-1 zone.

The CVRD will be seeking financial assistance from the Union of BC Municipalities in appealing the decision "due to the potential implications of the ruling on other B.C. municipalities," the regional release concluded.

However, the dispute is likely to continue.

Dave Johel, one of the Khalsa Diwan Society representatives, said that he was surprised to see the subject re-opened again after the society’s successful appeal.

"They must have lots of taxpayers money to spend," he said. "We had three judges look at it and say this is what it should be. I’m not sure where they [the CVRD] are going with it. They seem to feel other things are threatened. I just find it’s been a terrible waste of time and money for everybody. Even for the society – those are public funds as well.

"For some reason, I don’t know if it’s political, they seem to think they need to push this thing and go to the next level with it. It makes you wonder," Johel said.

Asked if the society and the crematorium company are ready to keep going with legal action, he said, "Oh, we’re not stopping. It’s ludicrous.

"This thing should have never gone to court because we were willing to work with it in the first place," Johel said.

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