A judge has reserved judgement in Vancouver in the West Kootenay Ecosociety’s case against the government’s creation of the Jumbo Glacier Resort municipality. The society’s David Reid says it could take up to six months for a decision.
The society asked the court to review the legality of the government’s formation of a municipality with no residents. They argued the stated purpose of a municipality in the Local Government Act and Community Charter is to serve its electors and residents, and since Jumbo municipality has none of those, it should not exist.
The court’s reserved judgement comes after a decision by the provincial environment minister that cancels the project’s environmental certificate. However, the court action went ahead because the government-created municipality at Jumbo still exists.
Judah Harrison, one of the society’s lawyers, told the Star the government’s lawyer rebutted the society’s arguments by stating the legislature passed a new law allowing municipalities with no residents, and government managers simply did what the legislature approved.
However, he said the EcoSociety’s point was that the new law itself (an amendment to the Local Government Act) was improper.
“They argued it at such a shallow level,” Harrison said. “They addressed everything by saying, ‘This is allowed in the statute, go away.’”
He said he hopes the judge will recognize the complexity of the case.
“The lack of effort by the crown will require the judge to do some homework,” he said. “We hope the judge will grapple with this. If she does, we have a good shot, and if she doesn’t, and finds an easy way out, we don’t.”
The Star called the Ministry of Justice to get its version of the province’s argument in court. The reply, a one-sentence email from a communications officer at the ministry, reads:
“In response to the petitioner’s argument, the government’s lawyer, generally, argued that the statutory language was clear in providing authority to incorporate municipalities without residents and that there were no restrictions on timing.”