The CVRD may have to shoulder additional court costs in their contaminated soil case. (Citizen file)

The CVRD may have to shoulder additional court costs in their contaminated soil case. (Citizen file)

Shawnigan Lake soil company awarded increased court costs

CVRD may have to pay more for ongoing court battle

The Cowichan Valley Regional District remains hopeful it won’t have to pay any additional court costs despite a ruling this week by the B.C. Court of Appeal.

The court awarded Cobble Hill Holdings increased court costs in its ongoing legal battle with the CVRD.

In its ruling, the court found that Cobble Hill Holdings, the main owner of the controversial contaminated soil site near Shawnigan Lake, has “paid a heavy price for the complex litigation, which was commenced by a state actor to address an issue that could only have been effectively resolved at the political level or at the Environmental Appeal Board.”

The court said that awarding ordinary, instead of increased costs, “would create an unjust result” for the company, and added that the CVRD had been advised by its own staff about the “exclusive provincial jurisdiction over mining” that led to the Court of Appeal’s ruling in favour of the company.

The CVRD filed an application with the Supreme Court of Canada on Dec. 29, 2016, to appeal its case in regards to the now closed landfill, located on Stebbings Road.

The regional district is asking that the Supreme Court review the decision made by the B.C. Court of Appeal on Nov. 3, 2016, that, at the time, allowed the landfill to continue operations.

That decision reversed a ruling made by the B.C. Supreme Court on March 21, 2016, that found that the landfill is not a permitted use of the property under the CVRD’s zoning bylaws.

The CVRD is arguing that the B.C. Court of Appeal erred in setting aside “key factual findings” of the case, and that the court incorrectly determined that provincial mining decisions take exclusive precedence over the regional district’s land-use bylaws.

The regional district is also arguing that the court erred in finding that the CVRD’s authority to regulate soil-deposit facilities restricts the district’s ability to regulate land use.

CVRD chairman Jon Lefebure said the exact extra costs to the regional district of the B.C. Court of Appeal’s ruling this week have yet to be determined.

But he said the hope is that the CVRD will bear no extra legal costs at all.

“If the Supreme Court of Canada decides to hear our case and overturns the decision by the B.C. Court of Appeal, we would not expect to pay those extra costs,” he said.

“We expect to hear back from the court soon on whether they will hear our case.”

The legal battle continues, despite the fact that the provincial government cancelled the Cobble Hill Holding’s permit to store contaminated soil at the site earlier this year.

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