Supreme Court rules County of An­napo­lis did not have author­ity to ex­pro­pri­ate Val­ley Waste trans­fer sta­tion

Annapolis Valley Register - - FRONT PAGE - BY ASH­LEY THOMP­SON KINGSCOUN­TYNEWS.CA AN­NAPO­LIS ROYAL, N.S. Ash­ley.Thomp­[email protected]­tynews.ca

Jus­tice Jamie Camp­bell has ruled leg­is­la­tion pre­vent­ing one mu­nic­i­pal­ity from ex­pro­pri­at­ing prop­erty owned by another mu­nic­i­pal­ity ap­plies in the case in­volv­ing Val­ley Waste and the County of An­napo­lis.

“The County of An­napo­lis did not have the author­ity to ex­pro­pri­ate the prop­erty,” the con­clu­sion of a writ­ten de­ci­sion re­leased by Camp­bell Nov. 28 reads.

Camp­bell’s de­ci­sion re­lates to a Supreme Court of Nova Sco­tia pro­ceed­ing that brought lawyers rep­re­sent­ing both par­ties to the An­napo­lis Royal court­house Nov. 20.

“Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties should not be lit­i­gat­ing amongst them­selves about ex­pro­pri­a­tions.

Ex­pro­pri­at­ing the land legally held by Val­ley Waste di­rectly en­gages the in­ter­ests

not only of Val­ley Waste but of the other mem­bers of Val­ley Waste,” wrote Camp­bell.

The other mem­bers of the Val­ley Re­gion Solid Waste-Re­source Man­age­ment Author­ity are the Mu­nic­i­pal­ity of the County of Kings, Town of An­napo­lis Royal, Town of Ber­wick, Town of Wolfville, Town of Mid­dle­ton and Town of Kentville.

These par­ties filed an ap­pli­ca­tion for a ju­di­cial re­view of the de­ci­sion of An­napo­lis County Coun­cil to ex­pro­pri­ate Val­ley Waste’s west­ern trans­fer sta­tion in Lawrencetown.

“The ap­pli­ca­tion for ju­di­cial re­view is granted,” states Camp­bell’s con­clu­sion.

“If the par­ties are not able to agree on costs I will hear them on that mat­ter.”

The re­cent Supreme Court of Nova Sco­tia pro­ceed­ing largely fo­cused on the in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the word mu­nic­i­pal­ity as it ap­pears in sec­tion 52 (1) of the Mu­nic­i­pal Gov­ern­ment Act (MGA), which states a mu­nic­i­pal­ity is not au­tho­rized to ex­pro­pri­ate prop­erty owned by another mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

“The in­ter­ests of mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties are pro­tected as a way of avoid­ing costly con­flicts be­tween units. Of course, no one would want that,” reads Camp­bell’s de­ci­sion.

“That sec­tion does not say that the prop­erty must be owned ex­clu­sively by a mu­nic­i­pal­ity or whether the in­ter­est in the prop­erty may be through par­tic­i­pa­tion in or mem­ber­ship in another en­tity,” the judge adds in a sub­se­quent para­graph.

Frank DeMont, the lawyer rep­re­sent­ing the six mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties still served by Val­ley Waste, ar­gued the author­ity would be con­sid­ered a mu­nic­i­pal­ity within the con­text of Sec­tion 52 of the MGA as it is a prod­uct of an in­ter-mu­nic­i­pal ser­vices agree­ment and, there­fore, con­trolled and owned by part­ner­ing mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

Bruce Gil­lis, le­gal coun­sel for the Mu­nic­i­pal­ity of the County of An­napo­lis, dis­agreed. He con­tended Val­ley Waste is a sep­a­rate cor­po­rate en­tity.

Camp­bell’s de­ci­sion sup­ported the ar­gu­ments pre­sented on be­half of the Val­ley Waste mem­bers rep­re­sented by DeMont.

“This is the kind of dis­pute that (sec­tion) 52(1) of the MGA was in- tended to avoid,” said Camp­bell.

Camp­bell agreed with DeMont’s as­ser­tion that the word mu­nic­i­pal­ity ap­plies to Val­ley Waste when the con­text of the MGA sec­tion in ques­tion is con­sid­ered.

“Val­ley Waste was cre­ated en­tirely by mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties for a spe­cific mu­nic­i­pal pur­pose. It was cre­ated… as a unique kind of cor­po­rate body for the pur­pose of al­low­ing for mu­nic­i­pal co­op­er­a­tion,” he said.

“Val­ley Waste does not op­er­ate as an in­de­pen­dent en­tity but as a del­e­gate of author­ity from the par­ties that cre­ated it. Those par­ties are ul­ti­mately re­spon­si­ble for the fi­nan­cial con­se­quences of the col­lec­tive de­ci­sions made by their rep­re­sen­ta­tives who serve on the board of Val­ley Waste.”

Camp­bell’s rul­ing con­tin­ues, “the prop­erty held by Val­ley Waste is for pur­poses of (sec­tion 52 (1) of the MGA) the prop­erty ‘of a mu­nic­i­pal­ity.’”

Kings County Mayor Peter Mut­tart of­fered a writ­ten state­ment fol­low­ing the re­lease of the court de­ci­sion Nov. 28.

“As one of the six mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties with a vested in­ter­est in this case, we are pleased with the de­ci­sion,” said Mut­tart.

“Our goal al­ways was, and con­tin­ues to be, work­ing col­lab­o­ra­tively with An­napo­lis County since they have ex­ited the (in­ter-mu­nic­i­pal ser­vices agree­ment).”

County of An­napo­lis CAO John Fer­gu­son said the mu­nic­i­pal­ity in­tends to file an ap­peal in re­la­tion to the de­ci­sion.

“We’re ap­peal­ing,” he said in a brief phone in­ter­view Nov. 28.

“We are pleased that the de­ci­sion did say that Val­ley Waste is to act like a mu­nic­i­pal­ity in re­spect to part 19 of the Mu­nic­i­pal Gov­ern­ment Act, which ba­si­cally means that they were sup­posed to get com­mit­ments on the con­tracts that started this whole mat­ter from the be­gin­ning.”

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