Decision Date: September 26, 2016
Panel: Alan Andison
Keywords: Administrative Tribunals Act – s. 39; preliminary decision; abeyance; adjournment; landfill; closure plan; groundwater
The Greater Vancouver Sewerage and Drainage District (“Metro Vancouver”) appealed a decision by the Director, Environmental Management Act (the “Director”), Ministry of Environment (the “Ministry”), to approve two plans related to the closure of the Cache Creek landfill. Most of the waste discharged to the landfill comes from Metro Vancouver, but the landfill also receives waste from the Village of Cache Creek (the “Village”) and the Thompson Nicola Regional District. Wastech Services Ltd. (“Wastech”) and the Village operate the landfill pursuant to an operational certificate that includes requirements for the landfill’s closure. Wastech and the Village submitted the closure plans that the Director had approved. The costs associated with the closure plans must be paid by Metro Vancouver pursuant to a private agreement between Wastech and Metro Vancouver.
Metro Vancouver appealed the approval of the closure plans on several grounds. The main issue concerned a proposal in the plans to collect and treat groundwater. Metro Vancouver submitted that groundwater treatment should not be part of the closure plans.
When Metro Vancouver filed its appeal, it requested that the Board hold the appeal in abeyance for an unspecified period of time. Metro Vancouver submitted that it filed the appeal in order to preserve its rights, fully consider the implications of the approval, and ensure that it had sufficient time to review the groundwater proposal with its technical and legal advisors. It submitted that, with this further review while the appeal is held in abeyance, some or all of the issues in the appeal may be resolved. It also submitted that an abeyance would not prejudice Wastech or the Village, or cause harm to the environment or human health.
The Village, Wastech, the Director, and the Bonaparte Indian Band objected to the appeal being held in abeyance.
The Board found that Metro Vancouver’s desire to review the groundwater proposal and the approval could be met even if the appeal is scheduled for a hearing. An abeyance was not required for an adequate hearing of the appeal. The Board also found that the Village and Wastech would be prejudiced by the delay caused by an abeyance, as the appeal creates uncertainty regarding their obligations under the operational certificate and the approved closure plans.
Consequently, the Board denied the application to hold the appeal in abeyance.