The City of Rossland confirmed that it will not appeal the BC Supreme Court’s decision in favour of Hammer Head Equities and its lawsuit against the city.
Justice Lindsay Lyster found that the city acted in “bad faith” when it refused five development permits to developer/owner Warren Hamm back in August, 2021.
“We accept the decision of the BC Supreme Court and will not be appealing it,” said Mayor Andy Morel. “We will comply with the court’s orders and work to continue to ensure that our community’s bylaws are applied fairly and transparently.
“When the majority of Council members made the decision to not issue the development permits, Council believed it to be in the best interest of our community to ensure that our natural resources are protected for future generations.”
The lawsuit was lodged by the developer against the city’s previous council and its decision to not issue development permits to the companies for tree removal and challenged the application of the city’s Tree Management Bylaw No. 2769.
Justice Lyster found that the former council acted in bad faith in enacting the Bylaw and that the decision to not issue the development permits was not legally valid under the city’s Official Community Plan. The finding of bad faith was made in the context of administrative law principles and was related to council’s efforts to address the tree cutting proposed by the companies.
Lyster noted in her review that a development permit was not only required for the purpose of building structures.
“Such an interpretation would mean that it would be impossible for a person to remove diseased vegetation, whether that be trees infected with Armillaria or a blighted rosebush, unless they also intended to construct a building or engage in similar activity.
“It would also be impossible for such a person to remove vegetation to reduce wildfire risk to existing structures. This would be an absurd interpretation.”
In a vote on Aug. 9, 2021, council moved by a majority to reject the development permits, and in September, 2021 introduced a new Tree Management Bylaw, that replaced a more lenient Tree Retention Bylaw.
As a result of the court’s decision, Justice Lyster set aside the refusals of the development permit applications and ordered the city to award the development permits at issue.
Additionally, the judge declared that work performed by the companies under the development permits will be governed by the city’s previous Tree Management Bylaw (Bylaw No. 2389) for a period of 24 months after the date of the court’s decision.
Read: Developer wins case against City of Rossland