A BC Supreme Court judge has dismissed a legal challenge by a local community group that sought to invalidate development permits issued to the developer of the controversial George Hotel and condominium project.
The Gibsons Alliance of Business and Community Society (GABC) had argued that the Town of Gibsons should not have issued the development permits to The George Gibsons Development Ltd. The permits were granted in August 2017 after the BC Environment Ministry indicated it supported the developer’s plan to clean up the construction site. The GABC said the Town was required to do its own environmental evaluation first and therefore the permits should be quashed.
In his written decision, Justice Robin Baird ruled that, “the Town issued the Permits in accordance with OCP and bylaw amendments specifically enacted to allow the Developer to begin work on the site. All concerned have acknowledged that the site and one or more of its adjacent water lots are contaminated, and the Developer has committed to complete site remediation to [legal] standards.”
Baird added that, “[t]he process of achieving this objective is well in hand under active Ministry supervision. The Developer was entitled to the Permits and the Town had no lawful basis to refuse them.”
Acting Gibsons Mayor Silas White said in a statement following the court’s announcement that “[t]he decision speaks for itself. It fully supports the Town of Gibsons’ handling of this matter. Most importantly to our community, it confirms that the developer is working cooperatively towards remediation of the site in compliance with provincial environmental standards.”
The project is envisioned as a multi-storey resort hotel and a matching multi-storey condominium building on the Gibsons waterfront. Opponents of the development have argued that it will destroy the seaside community character of the town, and poses an environmental risk due both to the site contamination and the proximity to the Gibsons aquifer.