Opinion: Perception and reality

Court ruling reveals the reality municipal governments must work within.

It’s unlikely Monday’s B.C. Supreme Court ruling will change many minds about the Aevitas waste recycling and transfer site.

But the court case was never about whether people liked the idea of hazardous waste that close to a river.

It was about the rezoning process and whether the City of Chilliwack followed its statutory obligations to inform the public.

And it did.

Critics argued the city failed to adequately inform the public about the plant; that the legal notices published two weeks and one week prior to the public hearing were vague and insufficient.

Justice Peter Voith disagreed.

“That this information was readily available to the public,” said Justice Voith in his ruling,  “is confirmed by the fact that the Chilliwack Progress, a local paper, had in the week prior to the public hearing published an article about the rezoning in both the print and online versions of its paper and that it fully and accurately addressed the intended use of the property after it was rezoned.”

Despite the Supreme Court ruling, critics will maintain the city could block Aevitas if it chose.

But they are wrong here, too.

The property is privately owned, and has been zoned heavy industrial since 2001 — a zoning confirmed by Chilliwack’s official community plan and reaffirmed in the 2040 OCP  update completed just this year.

Those who have fought so resolutely against Aevitas had an opportunity to raise concerns about the heavy industrial zoning during that OCP review process.

They did not.

There is a perception among some that a municipal government has unlimited powers; that it could intercede in a private property transaction in any manner it chose. They believe council has the power to block the development.

Again, the critics are wrong. If Chilliwack were to prevent the property owner from realizing the full potential of land the city has already rezoned, it would have to compensate the owner.

Some might argue that the millions of tax dollars it would cost would be justified.

But others might argue that money would be better spent enhancing services, providing better policing and fire protection, or assisting those most in need. They might argue that taxes brought by stringently regulated industrial development — and the local jobs that development creates — is where a municipal government’s priorities should be.

And they’d be right.

Just Posted

Rainbow crosswalk plan gets council support in Hope

Council writing letter of support to community group for crosswalk project

Task force on inclusion, diversity and accessibility coming for Chilliwack

Idea for rainbow crosswalk nixed but council listened to feedback and will appoint task force

Rainbow crosswalk coming to Chilliwack school district parking lot

Fractious debate at school board meeting ends with 4-3 vote

Hard rock tribute band Led Zepagain returns to Chilliwack Cultural Centre

‘It’s as close as you’ll ever get to the real deal,’ says Led Zeppelin founder Jimmy Page

Mayor and city staff stay mum on possible Abbotsford aerospace plant

Economic development staff have met with a U.S. firm looking for places to build a large plant

Chilliwack woman wins right to medically assisted death after three-year court battle

Julia Lamb has been the lead plaintiff in a legal battle to ease restrictions on Canada’s assisted dying laws

NDP, Liberals promise more spending, while Tories promise spending cuts

Making life more affordable for Canadians a focus in the 2019 election

UPDATE: Police probe third threat against a Kamloops high school in eight days

Police have not released any further details into what the threat includes

B.C. Interior caribou protection area big enough, minister says

Proposals sparked protest in Kootenays, Williams Lake region

Two B.C. women selected to compete on ABC’s The Bachelor

Mykenna Dorn and Alexis Thind will compete for bachelor Peter Weber’s heart

Charges dropped against Mountie involved in shooting death of Surrey man

‘I feel like I’ve lost Hudson all over again,’ says mom

Break out the tiki torches: Open fires allowed again in B.C.’s coastal region

All open fires allowed effective at noon on Sept. 18

Vaping-related illness confirmed in Ontario believed to be first in Canada

Middlesex-London Health Unit had no further details about the case — believed to be the first confirmed in Canada

Canadian stars Virtue, Moir say in video they’re ‘stepping away’ from ice dancing

The pair thank fans for their support in an emotional message

Most Read