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Water rights and the importance of due diligence

A recent decision of the British Columbia Environmental Appeal Board in Michael and Joaney Lindelauf; Jill Fitzpatrick; William Switzer v. Assistant Regional Water Manager (issued on August 15, 2015) serves as a reminder that (quoting the Board): “any person buying rural property must do their research regarding water rights and water availability, just as they must investigate and confirm where the property boundaries are”.

Local Government Service Policies

The provision of services to residents is one of the most important functions of local governments.  The term “services” broadly includes activities, works and facilities undertaken or provided by, or on behalf of, the municipality.  These can apply to the entire municipality, but may also be limited to a specific part of the municipality or, alternatively, may extend beyond municipal boundaries.  Examples of services include fire protection, sidewalks, roads, water supply, sewage disposal, libraries and recreational facilities.  In providing services to residents, many local governments have policies as to when to maintain and repair the service.

Province issues Water Sustainability Act policies for comment

On July 30, 2015, the Province of British Columbia issued for comment four policies associated with the Water Sustainability Act (“WSA”).  The WSA is expected to come into force in 2016, with associated regulations (which will likely be based on the proposed policies).

The policies relate to groundwater licensing, groundwater protection, dam safety and enforcement. The comment period expires on September 8, 2015.  Below are key points set out in the policies.

Municipal waste management - fines should be more than the cost of doing business

Waste management facilities, if not properly managed and controlled, can create a significant environmental risk.  The recent ruling of the BC Provincial Court in R. v. Fraser Valley Disposal and Liang, 2015 BCPC 0127 confirms that if an operator of a waste management facility violates applicable bylaws and licenses, fines should be sufficiently significant to deter such conduct. 

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