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UPDATED: Rossland won’t appeal court decision over private logging

The City of Rossland won’t appeal a BC Supreme Court ruling that said it acted in bad faith when it rejected an application by a local man to log his properties.

Justice Lindsay Lyster ruled against the city in a series of lawsuits brought against the city by several companies associated with Warren Hamm.

“We accept the decision,” said mayor Andy Morel in a news release. “We will comply with the court’s orders and work to continue to ensure that our community’s bylaws are applied fairly and transparently.”

Morel, who was a councillor at the time the decision was made, said in refusing to issue the development permits, council believed it was “in the best interest of our community to ensure that our natural resources are protected for future generations.”

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However, Lyster ruled they acted contrary to the official community plan, and “knew or ought to have known that their decisions to reject the applications were unlawful.”

Lyster said they imposed obligations on Hamm to prevent logging they found “distasteful,” which amounted to an “improper purpose.”

Council subsequently adopted more stringent requirements for its tree management bylaw.

But in addition to setting aside council’s refusal of the permit, Lyster ruled Hamm has two years to reapply for his permit under the previous bylaw.

We have asked Hamm for comment.

But in the meantime, one outraged resident isn’t mincing words. Shawn Gresley-Jones thinks Morel should resign along with councillor Stewart Spooner, the only other member of the former council still serving.

“They patted themselves on the back a year and a half ago when they did our official community plan,” Gresley-Jones said. “Then they went against the plan.

“Now the taxpayers of Rossland, of which I’m one, have to pay a whole bunch of money ⁠— I have no idea how much because they won’t tell me ⁠— to the plaintiff.”

Gresley-Jones said he is a friend of Hamm’s, but that’s not the reason he’s piqued.

“This is me being angry because our city council has wasted taxpayers dollars. We pay a lot of taxes in Rossland. For them to squander our money is not right.”

Gresley-Jones said he has been to several recent council meetings, calling for resignations and trying to learn how much the city is on the hook for, but hasn’t been able to get answers.

“Isn’t that sad, that you can’t even go to your city council and say ‘How much is this going to cost us?’ Ten dollars? Five hundred thousand? Nobody knows.”

Morel said in an email that the city won’t disclose any financial information related to the court decision, “as the city’s legal fees in this matter are confidential.”

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