A group gathered outside Kamloops City Hall on Thursday, May 30, protesting the City of Kamloops’ decision to hire Arrow Transport to dispose of the city’s biosolids in Turtle Valley. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week)

Injunction bid from opponents of Turtle Valley biosolids project rejected

B.C. Supreme Court justice rules there are ‘little if any risks’ stemming from the operation

  • Jun. 11, 2019 6:00 a.m.

Kamloops This Week

There are “little if any risks” associated with a biosolids-spreading project in Turtle Valley, a B.C.Supreme Court judge ruled on Friday, in addition to noting the company behind the project has gone further than what is required by legislation and has made efforts to work with residents in the area.

The ruling, handed down by Justice Dev Dley in a packed courtroom in the Kamloops Law Courts building, effectively gives Arrow Transportation the green light to continue with a controversial City of Kamloops biosolids contract, which will see 23,000 tonnes of stockpiled treated sewage sludge delivered to the Turtle Valley Bison Ranch for reclamation of previously logged land.

Read More: Shuswap entrepreneurs tap into mobile craft beer niche

Read More: Some fire prohibitions to begin in Kamloops Fire Centre region

Following day-long submissions from Arrow and opponents during the private nuisance civil case, Dley delivered his decision.

(Ordinarily, he would take time to write reasons for his decision, but Dley said he took the unusual step of presenting immediately late in the day because delaying the decision would not be beneficial to any party.)

Dley determined that the application by 30 Turtle Valley residents for an injunction against Arrow Transportation lacked evidence. He said the burden of evidence in the case was on the residents to prove a “high degree of probability of harm,” noting they fell short of proving traffic, odour and health risks.

In fact, Dley said, evidence presented was “misleading,” with parts omitted. He questioned written expert medical testimony, which was called “the most important piece of evidence in the application” by Daniel McNamee, the lawyer representing the Turtle Valley residents opposed to the biosolids project.

Read More: Knife-wielding woman robs store in Salmon Arm

Read More: Two people dead after South Okanagan boating collision

Dley noted the testimony included words like “perhaps” and “possible” when analyzing risks of the project, including to drinking water.

“I have some concerns with the material I have been provided,” Dley said. “It is, to some degree, misleading. It fails to consider the steps that Arrow has taken to address concerns alleged.”

McNamee presented the residents’ primary concerns: increased traffic, impacts on drinking water and odour. He detailed a “pristine” rural area, with nine trucks daily coming in and out of the area to deliver biosolids.

David Jarrett, lawyer for Arrow, maintained the company has complied with all necessary regulations — even going beyond, with double the required setbacks from Chum Lake — and said risks were speculative. He accused protestors of moving the goal posts when raising issues of concern about the project and insisted the residents’ issue was not with the transportation company, but with the provincial Organic Matter Recycling Regulation, for which he said there is an avenue for lobbying change through local MLAs.

“The concern that Arrow has is, what more can it do?” Jarrett said, arguing a courtroom is not the forum for such provincial legislative changes. “It’s a bit like whack-a-mole.”

Jarrett also dismissed inference from residents that testing has not been done, noting one resident had intercepted from a lab test results anticipated by Arrow. The results apparently showed the company was in compliance, but the results were not mentioned during evidence presented by McNamee, which was of concern to Dley.

“His affidavit doesn’t swear that he didn’t take any samples,” McNamee countered.

Residents maintain the Organic Matter Recycling Regulation is not thorough enough when it comes to biosolids testing.

Dley told the courtroom no decision would make everyone happy. At one point prior to a break, he suggested the two parties go away and each make concessions. However, they returned with agreement — with the parties still on opposite sides of the issue.

“Unfortunately, we were not able to come to a resolution,” McNamee said when court reconvened.

In making his decision, Dley said he understands residents might feel betrayed by the provincial legislation and offered suggestions for the two sides to come together.

Though not a court order, Dley specifically suggested monitoring of the westerly boundaries of the aquifer and, if any traces of biosolids were found from the adjacent field, the project should be “stopped immediately.”

Additionally, he recommended the project be restricted to the one field on the bison ranch.

In addition to denying the injunction request from the residents, Dley awarded undetermined costs to Arrow. The company would not comment immediately after the decision on Friday and it is unclear when it will resume hauling biosolids to the area, which is near Chase and about 45 minutes west of Kamloops.

After the decision, McNamee called the decision disappointing and could not say if further legal action is planned.

Opponents had erected a blockade in Turtle Valley, which prevented Arrow trucks from accessing the bison ranch. Arrow applied for and received a court injunction that ordered the blockade removed and, last month, opponents complied with the court order.

However, another group of protesters, calling themselves Secwepemc People at Sacred Fire, have since set up a blockade.


@SalmonArm
jim.elliot@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

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

Just Posted

Man accused in Salmon Arm 7-Eleven fire pleads not guilty to breach of bail

Supreme Court trial will decide arson charges while Provincial Court will look at breach charge

Landslide stops repair crew from reaching internet service tower near Salmon Arm

MyBC Datacom users in Tappen, Sunnybrae, White Lake and parts of the Salmon Valley may be affected

Salmon Arm’s Elijah Lazar wins provincial wrestling title

Lazar overcomes Parmjot Sidhu from DW Poppy Secondary in the final on Feb. 17

Chase Heat in fine form as season winds down

The team’s first playoff opponents will be the 100 Mile House Wranglers.

Axe throwing, road hockey among Salmon Arm food drive festivities

Fill the Pantry event wraps up on Monday, Feb. 17 with day of activities. 600lbs of food collected.

VIDEO: 7 things you need to know about the 2020 B.C. budget

Surplus of $227 million with big spending on infrastructure and capital projects

Trees Cannabis director fined $1.5M for selling marijuana

Fine follows provincial crackdown on popular dispensary

World Cup skier from Okanagan dies suddenly at 19

Kuroda, who made his World Cup debut earlier this year, passed away suddenly Monday night.

Coastal GasLink pipeline investor committed to closing deal despite protests

Developer TC Energy Corp. — formerly TransCanada Corp. — is to remain the operator of the $6.6-billion pipeline

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

What’s in a name? The story of Revelstoke’s Mt. Begbie

It’s likely the iconic peak had several Indigenous peoples’ names before settlers arrived

Budget 2020: B.C. Liberals blast ‘Netflix tax,’ lack of economic plan

ICBC rates still go up, except in election year, Shirley Bond says

Teen snowmobiler from Kelowna found after air force’s overnight search

The teen had been missing since just after 6 p.m. on Monday

Town of Osoyoos voices support for proposed casino

Osoyoos council voted to submit a letter of support for a proposed casino on OIB land

Most Read