Court over­turns sep­tic com­pany’s pun­ish­ment for al­leged dump­ing

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - CITY + REGION - THIA JAMES tjames@post­

A Court of Queen’s Bench judge re­cently quashed the City of Prince Al­bert’s at­tempt to pun­ish a com­pany that al­legedly dumped solid waste di­rectly into the sewer sys­tem.

The city had de­nied C & D Sep­tic ac­cess to two city fa­cil­i­ties af­ter it hired a pri­vate in­ves­ti­ga­tor to con­duct surveil­lance on the com­pany, which cleans sep­tic tanks, in 2017.

The city was sus­pi­cious C & D was il­le­gally dump­ing sep­tic waste into Prince Al­bert’s san­i­tary sewer sys­tem, ac­cord­ing to a writ­ten de­ci­sion by Court of Queen’s Bench Jus­tice Gary Meschish­nick. The al­le­ga­tions against C & D have not been proven in court.

The city had also no­ti­fied res­i­dents who aren’t con­nected to the sewer sys­tem that they would no longer be en­ti­tled to re­im­burse­ment if they hired C & D to empty their sep­tic tanks. C & D ap­pealed the city ’s de­ci­sions on the grounds they were un­rea­son­able, there was no fair process and the city acted in bad faith.

In his June 21 de­ci­sion, Meschish­nick wrote it was clear the city made the de­ci­sions with­out no­tice to the com­pany.

“It is also clear from the ev­i­dence that sep­tic-tank clean­ing and dis­posal of sep­tage is the core ser­vice pro­vided by C & D,” he wrote.

“While C & D did not pro­vide any de­tailed ev­i­dence of the fi­nan­cial con­se­quences it has suf­fered as a re­sult of the City’s de­ci­sions, C & D did say that it has lost cus­tomers who ben­e­fit from the sep­tichaul­ing re­bate pro­gram and those who have ties to the City.”

Meschish­nick noted the city ar­gued its de­ci­sions were in­terim in na­ture and not fi­nal. “Its coun­sel ad­vanced the ar­gu­ment that the de­ci­sions were in­terim in na­ture, sug­gest­ing that the ev­i­dence that C & D was vi­o­lat­ing the by­law, not pay­ing the fees for us­ing the fa­cil­i­ties and, more im­por­tantly, that its ac­tions were threat­en­ing pub­lic health and risk­ing dam­age to the city’s in­fra­struc­ture called for im­me­di­ate ac­tion,” he wrote.

Meschish­nick ruled in favour of C & D, quash­ing both the de­ci­sion to deny C & D ac­cess to the land­fill and waste wa­ter treat­ment fa­cil­ity and to deny res­i­dents re­im­burse­ment un­der the sep­tic-haul­ing re­bate pro­gram if they em­ploy C & D.

Meschish­nick or­dered the city to pro­vide no­tice to C & D lay­ing out its con­cerns, which would in­clude the ev­i­dence the city is re­ly­ing upon as well as po­ten­tial pun­ish­ments.

The StarPhoenix reached out to both the City of Prince Al­bert and C & D for com­ment and did not re­ceive a com­ment from C & D by press time.

In a writ­ten state­ment pro­vided to the StarPhoenix, Prince Al­bert city man­ager Jim Toye said the city be­lieves it “con­ducted it­self fairly and ap­pro­pri­ately with C & D Sep­tic Ltd. in all of the cir­cum­stances and are study­ing the de­ci­sion.

“As by­law en­force­ment charges are out­stand­ing against C & D Sep­tic Ltd and sched­uled for trial in

C & D did say that it has lost cus­tomers who ben­e­fit from the sep­tic haul­ing re­bate pro­gram and those who have ties to the City.

October, the city will re­serve fur­ther com­ment at this time.”

The Prince Al­bert Po­lice Ser­vice’s by­law en­force­ment unit charged C & D with five vi­o­la­tions, and C & D has pleaded not guilty.

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