Keywords:Environment Management Act – s. 11(14.2); costs; bad faith
The District of Salmon Arm (the “District”) appealed a decision by the Deputy Comptroller of Water Rights. Before the appeal could be heard on its merits, the District abandoned its appeal. Several Third Parties asked the Board to order the District to pay the costs they had incurred to date in relation to the appeal, alleging that the District’s appeal was frivolous, vexatious, and/or abusive.
The Panel found that the District’s grounds of appeal were substantial, and without the benefit of a hearing on the merits, the Panel could not conclude that the appeal was frivolous or vexatious. It noted that prior to abandoning its appeal, the District appeared to be acting in good faith despite evidence that one of the District’s employees had warned that an appeal to the Board was unlikely to succeed. The Panel found that the District acted reasonably in abandoning its appeal several months before the hearing was scheduled to occur, thereby avoiding significant costs to the parties. It concluded that the circumstances did not warrant an award of costs. The application was denied.