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ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENTS - Projects subject to environmental assessment

Tuesday, September 24, 2019 @ 8:44 AM  

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Appeal by the Minister of Environment from the respondent Glacier Resorts’ successful judicial review application. In 2004, Glacier was issued a certificate under the Environmental Assessment Act with respect to the Jumbo Glacier Resort project. The certificate required the project to be substantially started within five years, subsequently extended to 10 years. Glacier experienced delays in proceeding for multiple reasons including delays in obtaining a master development agreement with the Province, delays in obtaining municipal rezoning and difficulties accessing the site due to the closure of a service road. By the deadline under the certificate, only limited construction had commenced. The Minister determined the project had not been substantially started by the deadline and that therefore the environmental assessment certificate had expired. In coming to her conclusion, the Minister considered the works that were constructed as well as building plans, design work, and environmental plans. The chambers judge found the Minister’s decision was unreasonable because she failed to give consideration to the difficulties Glacier faced in commencing construction.

HELD: Appeal allowed. It was permissible for the Minister to look primarily at the physical work accomplished on the ground in determining whether the project was substantially started. The Minister’s conclusion the project had not been substantially started was reasonable. Dissenting reasons were provided.

Glacier Resorts Ltd. v. British Columbia (Minister of Environment), [2019] B.C.J. No. 1459, British Columbia Court of Appeal, H. Groberman, G.J. Fitch and J.J.L. Hunter JJ.A., August 6, 2019. Digest No. TLD-September232019005