Houweling Nurseries Limited v. The District Director of the Greater Vancouver Regional District and Roger Emsley

File Number:
BCSC 894  

Decision Date: June 15, 2005

Court: B.C.S.C., Gerow, L

Cite: 2005 BCSC 894

Houweling Nurseries Ltd. (“Houweling”) filed a petition to have a decision of the Environmental Appeal Board (the “Board”) judicially reviewed in the Supreme Court of British Columbia (the “Court”). The Board held that it did not have jurisdiction to hear an appeal regarding the refusal of the Greater Vancouver Regional District (“GVRD”) to amend a permit under the Waste Management Act (the “Act”).

Houweling argued that it has a right of appeal from the district director’s decision to the Board, pursuant to sections 43(d) and 44(1) of the Act. Houweling submitted that the Board’s interpretation of sections 43 and 44 of the Act was not in keeping with the accepted approach to statutory interpretation, in which the words of an act are to be read in their entire context and in their grammatical and ordinary sense, harmoniously with the scheme of the act, the intention of the act, and the intention of the Legislature. The GVRD argued that the plain meaning of the words should prevail and that the Board’s decision was based on the plain meaning of the words.

The Court agreed with Houweling’s interpretation of the relevant sections of the Act. The Court determined that the Legislature did not intend to distinguish between an issued permit and an amended permit, and there are no policy reasons to distinguish between a refusal of a permit and refusal of an amended permit for the purposes of determining whether there is a right of appeal to the Board.

The Court also held that policy considerations supported this interpretation. In particular, the Court noted that the Board has the requisite expertise and is in a better position than the Court to determine the merits of the appeal.

Accordingly, the Court concluded that the Board has jurisdiction to hear the appeal of the decision refusing the amended permit. The matter was remitted to the Board for a hearing on the merits of the appeal.