West Van going to court over stormwater protests

A group of West Vancouver residents continue to protest the Five Creeks diversion project. But the municipality is warning that anyone who interferes with construction may face arrest.

About two dozen people from the Save West Vancouver Creeks group gathered outside municipal hall Monday evening to deliver their 663-name petition to Mayor Mary-Ann Booth.

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The group’s spokesman Roger Finnie repeated calls for the district to halt the project until more consultation had been done with residents.

“We’ve asked West Vancouver council to look at new, modern alternatives for the management of stormwater through the municipality,” Finnie said. “But the mayor and council aren’t listening. This whole project is shrouded in secrecy, it seems. You’d almost think the whole West Vancouver council is a division of British Pacific Properties.”

The project is designed to capture the excess stormwater that gushes down the creeks during particularly heavy one- and two-year storm events and divert it into a five-foot-diameter pipe from the Upper Levels Highway down Westmount Road to the foot of 31st Street.

It was recommended in the district’s 2013 Integrated Stormwater Management Plan, which was a requirement of British Pacific Properties’ plans for further development on the slopes of Hollyburn Mountain.

Finnie also targeted what he characterized as the district’s shifting justifications for the project.

“We’ve heard everything from climate change, which seems to be an excuse for everything these days. We’ve heard about the risk and the apparent hazard,” he said.

Although the project does have the endorsement of the West Vancouver Streamkeeper Society, Save West Vancouver Creeks is demanding the municipality find a more environmentally friendly option to deal with stormwater, even if it means a higher cost.

Under the agreement, the district will pay $6.25 million with the rest of the $16-million cost being paid by BPP.

Earlier in the day, the district’s lawyers filed a claim in B.C. Supreme Court asking for a court order prohibiting anyone “from obstructing, interfering or otherwise acting in a way to prevent the construction of the stormwater works” on district-owned land at the foot of 31st Street or on the foreshore. Between May 13 and 22, individuals protested there and refused to move despite demands from West Vancouver police.

“Some of the individuals would sit in lawn chairs in the middle of the paved road,” the court document states.

The civil claim names Briane Finnie, Joan Finnie, Mary Lucinda Jones, Susan Bibbings, as well as a John Doe and Jane Doe. In its claim, the district staff asks that police be authorized to arrest and remove anyone, under threat of contempt of court proceedings.

“The district and its council seeks to promptly complete the work on the south of 31st Street and the water lot and to ensure the work in the water lot is performed in the appropriate season to avoid harm to fish, to ensure that the stormwater diversion system agreement is performed without exposing the district to delay costs and to fulfill the district’s efforts to improve stormwater drainage in the Five Creeks area that the district has pursued for over a decade,” the application states.

The people named in the court documents were served with the papers on Tuesday, according to the district. A court date to hear the district’s application has been set for June 4.

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