Prince Rupert Port Authority was in court on Dec. 19 for charges relating to provincial environmental charges and federal fisheries offences. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)

B.C. port challenges four Environmental Management Act charges

B.C. Ministry of Environment laid four charges on the port for burning prohibited materials

Prince Rupert Port Authority will be challenging the provincial government’s environmental charges for burning treated wood for five days on Ridley Island.

A pre-trial conference was held at the Prince Rupert Courthouse on Wednesday, Dec. 19. While no actual facts were agreed to on the record, the port’s defence advised they would be forthcoming with constitutional arguments.

The B.C. Ministry of Environment laid four charges under the Environmental Management Act for an incident involving burning prohibited materials between June 22-27, 2017, on Ridley Island. Neighbouring residents from Port Edward complained about the smoke prompting a Conservation Officer to investigate.

READ MORE: Port charged with burying burnt remains of treated wood

Following the incident, the Prince Rupert Port Authority (PRPA) apologized to the community in a public statement.

“PRPA misclassified some non-organic materials in that burn as organic and subsequent to discovering the error we apologized to the community for that error in the aftermath. Obviously we’ve worked extremely hard and we take a lot of pride in being an organization that is prioritizing the environment and our operations over time, and as we said then, we’ve made and we will continue to make changes to make sure that doesn’t happen again,” said Ken Veldman, VP of public affairs and sustainability at the Prince Rupert Port Authority.

At the pre-trail, defence lawyers, Michael Manhas and Matthew Keen from Northon Rose Fulbright based in Vancouver, made it clear that the port authority plans to challenge the provincial charges by raising constitutional arguments and claiming Crown agent immunity.

“We are going to be challenging the provincial government’s charge in this case on a constitutional point that the provincial law doesn’t apply to federal agencies. That principal of maintaining federal jurisdiction over the federal land that we administer is important to our ongoing responsibilities and operations. In other words, there’s a precedent here,” Veldman said.

Judge Dwight Stewart set Feb. 15, 2019 as the due date for the defence lawyers to submit their written defence and give constitutional notice.

In another matter raised at the pre-trial, Judge Stewart said that as a judge in a small town he is concerned about the how this will appear to community members as he is familiar with senior management at the port authority.

“With a matter of this nature there would be problems with matters of credibility,” he said.

While he feels he can adjudicate fairly, he worries how this may appear publicly. Judge Stewart will continue as the case management judge but another judge may be called in for the trial on June 10, 2019.

A second pre-trail date will be arranged for the last week of February.

10 fisheries violations

The port authority, DP World and its contractors for the Fairview Terminal expansion were also in court on Dec. 19 for another matter.

On Nov. 2, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) laid 10 charges for fisheries violations against the port and its partners for work that was carried out during the terminal expansion that allegedly resulted in “serious harm to fish”.

The next court date has been set for Jan. 30 at 9 a.m. to consult with legal counsel.

READ MORE: Prince Rupert port and DP World faces 10 fisheries violations



shannon.lough@thenorthernview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ear-to-ear smiles for Kelowna woman’s 75th birthday surprise

Helen Bellinger’s early 75th birthday celebrations involved a cluster of bright yellow smiley-face balloons

Former Kelowna cop faces fourth lawsuit alleging sexual assault

Ex-Mountie Brian Mathew Burkett is also separately facing seven charges of breach of trust

QUIZ: A celebration of apples

September is the start of the apple harvest

Smoky skies clearing throughout B.C. Interior

Environment Canada expects “widespread” improvement for all affected areas by Sunday

B.C. or Ontario? Residential school survivors fight move of court battle

It’s now up to Ontario’s Court of Appeal to sort out the venue question

B.C. transportation minister will not seek re-election

Claire Trevena has held the position since 2017

Squabble over mask policy at LUSH in Kelowna mall

The woman filmed the encounter at LUSH Cosmetics, where wearing a mask in-store is company policy

Cops For Kids ride wraps in Okanagan

No pomp, no circumstance for end of milestone 20th anniversary fundraising bicycle trip

Province opens ‘middle income’ housing in Kelowna

Prices on the units are $1,300 for a one-bedroom and $1,780 for a two-bedroom, nearing area-average prices

Young B.C. cancer survivor rides 105-km with Terry Fox’s brother

Jacob Bredenhof and Darrell Fox’s cycling trek raises almost $90,000 for cancer research

B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program

Rally is part of the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers Campaign led by the Migrant Workers Centre

Reward offered for return of Okanagan puppy

An 11-week-old boxer-mastiff cross pup was allegedly taken from its Kelowna Friday, Sept. 18

Preparations underway for pandemic election in Saskatchewan and maybe B.C.

Administrators in B.C. and around the country are also looking to expand voting by mail during the pandemic

Most Read