Resident’s water rate case against City, SRD sneaks in under deadline

Case should continue in Supreme Court this fall

An Area D resident’s case against both the City of Campbell River and the Strathcona Regional District over water rate hikes got to court just in time to proceed.

The case will now resume sometime later in the year.

In B.C. Supreme Court in Nanaimo last week, lawyers for both the city and SRD made the case around the timing of the petition launched by Area D resident Robert Benoit. The case was heard over two days, on Aug. 7 and 8.

RELATED STORY: Campbell River and Strathcona Regional District in court this week over water rates

The regional district’s counsel tried to argue the case did not fall within a two-month window from when the SRD board passed its new water rate bylaw.

“That claim is being brought under the Local Government Act, and that section of the Local Government Act requires that it be heard within two months,” said Benoit’s lawyer, Lisa Low.

As a result, Aug. 7 was the last day for the case to go to court.

“With the statutory holidays in between, we were still within that two months,” she said.

The SRD’s counsel had hoped to adjourn the matter, which would have extended the case past the deadline.

RELATED STORY: Strathcona Regional District hikes water rates for rural area

Low was able to present Benoit’s case before Justice Barbara Young by the end of the day on Aug. 8.

“With just a few minor issues that need to be dealt with … he’s got his case in,” Low said. “Then it will be left open to the Strathcona Regional District and Campbell River’s counsel to respond.”

Sara Dubinsky, who is representing the City of Campbell River, said her client as well as the regional district will present their cases when the matter resumes.

“The City has already filed its affidavit, as has the SRD,” she told the Mirror on Monday. “We both filed our affidavits and our responses to the petition.”

At issue, according to Benoit’s petition, is whether the city, which is the bulk water supplier to residents in the north part of Area D, overstepped its powers by charging for costs beyond the cost of supplying the water on the grounds that, as Area D residents live outside the city, the city does not have other means of funding the system, such as development cost charges or parcel taxes. Another question is the legality of the rate increase in the absence of a signed agreement. Area D Director Brenda Leigh has not supported the rate hikes and has not signed an agreement, according to her own affidavit.

Another question for the case is around cost, with Benoit asking that if his petition is successful, he receive special costs, or if not, that no costs be imposed against him. Benoit and his neighbour Jamie Wood started collecting funds for the case from other residents in the north part of Area D. (Residents in the south part of the electoral area are on a different water system.) The residents estimate their costs will be approximately $15,000.

Meanwhile, an SRD staff report from July estimates its case will cost $40,000. There is no estimate on city costs, as the City of Campbell River is not commenting on the case at this time.

Initially, the parties hoped to resume the case over a couple of days in September, but because of scheduling issues, it will most likely take place later in the year.

“We decided, to be safe, we’ll set it for another two days in front of the same judge,” Dubinsky said. “We don’t have confirmation yet as to when it will be. We’ve provided dates for the remainder of the fall.”

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

Just Posted

MMFN First Nation has said that it will restrict access to portion of Highway 28 that passes through the Nation’s land until a road use agreement is reached. (Black Press file photo)
Vancouver Island First Nation blocks highway access to logging trucks in Gold River

Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation restricting access for Western Forest Products pending road deal

Campbell River Remembrance Day Ceremony 2019. Campbell River Mirror file photo
Campbell River Remembrance Day Ceremony to go ahead in reduced form

Public asked not to attend; event will be streamed on social media, Shaw TV

Father Charles Brandt, a hermit priest. File Photo
Black Creek environmentalist and Catholic priest-hermit Father Charles Brandt passes away

He devoted his life to protecting and preserving natural habitats

Two suspects seen outside of Gord Knight Auto on Oct. 27 at around 4:15 a.m. Campbell River RCMP are looking for information on these suspects’ identities. Photo supplied by RCMP
RCMP look for suspects in break-in cases

Two suspects caught on surveilance video

Campbell River RCMP. RCMP photo
Police investigation results in multiple property crime charges

A Campbell River RCMP investigation has lead to multiple property crime charges… Continue reading

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps by 287, another senior home outbreak

Two more deaths recorded, community outbreak in Okanagan

An untitled Emily Carr painting of Finlayson Point was donated to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria by brothers Ian and Andrew Burchett. The painting had been in their family for several decades. (Courtesy of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria)
Never before seen painting by famed B.C. artist Emily Carr gifted to Victoria gallery

Painting among several donated to Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
Rescued bald eagle that came to life in B.C. man’s car had lead poisoning

Bird is on medication and recovering in rehab centre

The B.C. Centre for Disease control is telling people to keep an eye out for the poisonous death cap mushroom, which thrives in fall weather conditions. (Paul Kroeger/BCCDC)
Highly poisonous death cap mushroom discovered in Comox

This marks first discovery on Vancouver Island outside Greater Victoria area

Janet Austin, lieutenant governor of B.C., was presented with the first poppy of the Royal Canadian Legion’s 2020 Poppy Campaign on Wednesday. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
PHOTOS: B.C. Lieutenant Governor receives first poppy to kick off 2020 campaign

Janet Austin ‘honour and a privileged’ to receive the poppy

Cowichan Search and Rescue set up near the Silver Bridge in Duncan on Wednesday morning, Oct. 28, 2020 to rescue a dog from the Cowichan River. (Citizen file)
Cowichan Search and Rescue save dog from icy Cowichan River

Search and Rescue’s swiftwater team was called in

Premier-elect John Horgan and cabinet ministers are sworn in for the first time at Government House in Victoria, July 18, 2017. (Arnold Lim/Black Press)
Pandemic payments have to wait for B.C. vote count, swearing-in

Small businesses advised to apply even if they don’t qualify

Most Read