The courts again upheld OK Industries against the District of Highlands, which had appealed in hopes of reinstating a stop work order to the company’s quarry.
The BC Court of Appeal upheld the BC Supreme Court’s earlier ruling, dismissing the District’s appeal that the Supreme Court erred in its decision on who had jurisdiction over the land .
“While I do not necessarily agree with general statements of ‘exclusive jurisdiction’…I agree with the Court’s interpretation of the relevant statute and its conclusion that a municipal government is not empowered to regulate the ‘mines,’ which include quarries, under its zoning power,” BC Court of Appeal Judge Barbara Fisher wrote in her remarks.
Highlands had appealed the decision on two main grounds, namely that the province does not have exclusive jurisdiction over the governance of mining operations in British Columbia and that the quarry operation did not meet the definition of a mine and was therefore not under provincial authority.
The decision means the quarry will be able to continue operating under a permit granted by the province under the Mining Act. This is the case until the cessation of mining operations, at which time the district will have jurisdiction when clean-up operations begin.
The appeal process has been a long fight for the district.
OK Industries purchased the 65-acre property from the province in 2015. In late 2016, Highlands blocked the company’s rezoning application to use the land for industrial purposes. The company then applied to the province for a permit under the Mining Act in 2017, which was granted in March 2020.
Work began on October 1 of the same year when the company began by cutting down trees on the property. Two days later, a municipal officer arrived on the scene to issue the paving contractor with a stop work order on the grounds that he had not obtained a valid tree cutting permit, contrary to the municipal tree management by-law.
Highlands also cited a number of other regulations that OK Industries’ work may violate. The company filed for review a week later.
District of HighlandsWest Shore