City to Press on with Maple Pool Court Case

BY PHILIP ROUND, COMOX VALLEY ECHO SEPTEMBER 27, 2013
Courtenay City Council has broken a self-imposed silence on why it is continuing to pursue
legal action against Maple Pool Campground.
Two days after holding another incamera meeting on the controversy with the press and
public excluded, an 800-word statement was issued Wednesday setting out the council’s
current position, how it got to this point, and what could happen next.
One thing is clear: any suggestion the court case might be dropped after the grilling the City’s
lawyer received from the judge at the last court hearing is not being pursued.
The City plans to fight on, because it argues it is both “legally and legislatively” responsible
for land use.
“When a safety issue is brought to the City’s attention, particularly one that affects a large
number of people, it is the City’s responsibility to act,” the Council states.
“The City is concerned about the safety of occupants on the property and that it could be held
liable if such an event (floods) were to harm any of the Maple Pool residents.”
But it states the City remains open to exploring options that could resolve the issue:
“Solutions may be multifaceted, and the City is open to possibilities.”
And while it hopes to win the court case, it adds: “The ruling would simply determine whether
Maple Pool was in compliance with existing zoning -the steps that could be taken afterwards
are still up for discussion.”
That is a broad hint that a ruling in the City’s favour would not necessarily mean enforcement
action to seek the immediate closure of the site, particularly as the Council statement goes
on to acknowledge “the need for suitable affordable housing in our community.”
The detail in the full statement of various steps taken by the City to date, and the cataloguing
of flood issues, appear in part to be a public response to Judge Robin Baird’s questions at
the last, and currently adjourned, court hearing on the issue.
He suggested council needed to be clear if and how it had been proactive in its dealings on
the matter and why it felt it essential to pursue an issue with such a sensitive human
dimension to it.
At one point he had told the City’s lawyer: “I’m not grandstanding here -we are talking about
57 human beings that are just going to be turned out on to the street.”
* Read the full statement from City Council on Page 14 of today’s Echo.
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