Skip to content

Developer files lawsuit against City of Powell River

Alan Rebane initiates Supreme Court of British Columbia action over property development halt
MAKES CLAIM: Developer Alan Rebane had his legal council file a notice of motion in the Supreme Court of British Columbia against City of Powell River over his subdivision being located in the vicinity of a former city dumpsite called Squatters Creek landfill.

City of Powell River is facing a lawsuit from a local developer over his inability to build housing on his property on Quebec Avenue, where a former city dump was situated.

Notice of civil claim was filed in the Supreme Court of British Columbia by legal council representing Alan Rebane on April 4. The claim seeks general damages, special damages, including but not limited to costs of remediation, interest and further costs that the court may deem just from the city.

The notice of civil claim lays out what is called a statement of facts, which have not been proven in court.

The notice alleges that from the 1950s to around 1971, the city used a substantial portion of the original parcel of land, which included the former site of Max Cameron Secondary School, as a municipal landfill known as Squatter’s Creek landfill. The notice states that in or about 2006, the school district applied to subdivide and rezone the parcel. In or about July 2006, the ministry of environment and climate change strategy issued a site profile decision letter advising that the parcel of land had been put on the site registry as a potentially contaminated site, the notice stated.

The ministry advised the city it would remove the statutory restrictions on the school district’s subdivision and rezoning applications subject to certain conditions, including that the city could not issue building permits for the newly subdivided lots until a determination of non-contamination or a certificate of compliance was obtained, according to the court document. The city agreed with the ministry that the city would assume responsibility for the part of the parcel of land that contained the landfill, including responsibility for all remediation and risk assessment, the notice stated.

Two subdivisions of the land were approved by the city and around 2014, the newly created lot three contained the landfill portion of the original parcel, which was gifted by the school district to the city, according to the notice. During that year, the ministry advised the city and the school district that the remediation conditions were still outstanding, and noted that the city had breached the permit prohibition by issuing building permits for five parcels, despite there being no determination of non-contamination or a certificate of compliance for the lands, according to the lawsuit.

In response, the city and the school district confirmed to the ministry that all future building permits for the lands within the boundaries of the original parcel would be withheld until a determination of non-contamination or a certificate of compliance had been issued, the notice stated.

Portions of the land were sold to 3C1B Developments Ltd by the school district, which sold the land to Rebane in 2016, with the intent of subdividing the lands for a residential development, and in September 2016, Rebane’s company applied to the city to subdivide part of the properties for residential development.

The lawsuit states that in the course of the subdivision approval process, the city made express and/or implied representations to Rebane that the lands were suitable for development into residential lots and there were no legal impediments of which the city was aware that would prevent development of the lands into residential lots. Between 2017 and 2023, the city, through its development services department, unlawfully issued building permits to Rebane for construction of single-family homes for eight lots, according to the notice.

In June 2023, Rebane received correspondence from the city stating it would not issue any building permits for the properties, and that any development applications for one block would be placed on hold, the notice stated. The city advised Rebane for the first time that the lands are listed on the ministry of environment site registry as potentially contaminated sites and that a certificate of compliance was required prior to any ground-altering development on the lands, according to the notice. As a result, Rebane’s company is effectively precluded from selling the properties until the city meets remediation conditions, the lawsuit states.

In October 2023, the ministry advised the school district and the city that each is considered responsible for the remediation of contamination, the notice states. The notice concludes that the city’s failure to comply with remediation conditions has and continues to substantially and unreasonably interfered with Rebane’s company’s use of the land.

City of Powell River chief administrative officer Lisa Bhopalsingh offered the following response: “The City of Powell River is working through the appropriate legal channels to address the notice of civil claim from Alan Rebane. Because the claims are the subject of litigation, the city will not be providing any further comment.”

Join the Peak's email list for the top headlines right in your inbox Monday to Friday.