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Statement Regarding the B.C. Supreme Court Declaring District Bylaws Inapplicable to Quarry
On January 20, 2021, in O.K. Industries v. District of Highlands, 2021 BCSC 81, the B.C. Supreme Court declared that the District of Highlands’ Official Community Plan including any development permit areas, Zoning Bylaw, Soil Deposit and Removal Bylaw, Blasting Bylaw, Tree Management Bylaw, and Building Bylaw are inapplicable in respect of certain activities authorized by a quarry permit issued by the Chief Inspector of Mines, Energy and Petroleum Resources to O.K. Industries on March 18, 2020.
In October 2020, O.K. Industries began cutting trees on its property in the District that is subject to the quarry permit. The District expressed its view to O.K. Industries that a tree cutting permit is required under the District’s Tree Management Bylaw for certain tree cutting activities in the property. O.K. Industries filed a petition in the B.C. Supreme Court challenging the District’s view and seeking declarations regarding the applicability of various District Bylaws to O.K. Industries’ activities authorized by the quarry permit. The petition was heard by the Court in early December 2020.
In the Court’s Reasons for Judgment, the Court found that the Province has exclusive jurisdiction over the operation of quarries and that the various District Bylaws are inapplicable to O.K. Industries’ activities authorized by the quarry permit to the extent those activities fall within the definition of “mine” or “mining activity” under the Mines Act. The Court found that the District’s jurisdiction to regulate the use of the O.K. Industries’ property through its Bylaws is re-engaged when the quarrying activities are complete.
The District intends to carefully review the Reasons for Judgment and consider its options.