Members of the Shawnigan Residents Association are hoping to recover some of the more than $700,000 it has spent in legal costs fighting against the now-closed contaminated soil landfill in their community after a recent court ruling.
But SRA acting president Al Brunet said it’s unknown at this time just how much the association will get back, and when, after the BC Supreme Court ruled mostly in its favour after the court’s judgment on Jan. 26.
“The judge [Justice Robert Sewell] made several rulings as part of his judgment in which we were awarded a significant portion of some costs and none for others, so we’ll have to let the lawyers hash it out,” Brunet said.
“We’re hoping to get back much of what we spent defending our community, but there’s always the possibility the company [Cobble Hill Holdings] could appeal this decision and the process could go on.”
Sewell set aside a decision by B.C.’s Environmental Appeal Board in January, 2017, and reinstated a stay of the permit that allowed the landfill near Shawnigan Lake to receive and store up to 100,000 tonnes of contaminated soil a year at the site.
As part of his summation in that case, Sewell allowed the parties to make submissions for their legal costs.
The contaminated soil project, which closed permanently in February 2017, was previously given a permit by the province’s Ministry of Environment.
But documents that came to light in July, 2015, revealed a complex proposed deal between the companies working to establish the soil facility, which the SRA alleges threw doubt on the information that was used by the ministry in its decision to grant a permit for the project.
Sewell said in his summation on Jan. 26 that he is satisfied that Cobble Hill Holdings failed to make prompt and proper disclosure of documents in its control that established that there was partnership-like relations with the principals of Active Earth Engineering, the environmental engineering firm that originally signed off on the project.
“I also conclude that the affidavits filed in response to the SRA’s initial document disclosure application were misleading,” Sewell said in his summation.
“In my view, this is conduct that is worthy of reproof.”