Two sides await results of appeal

Vernon in court appeal over ruling stating Outback resort builder owed $2.8 million

The City of Vernon is waiting to see if its development bylaws stand or must be rewritten.

The city was in a Vancouver court Monday appealing an October ruling that stated its latecomer bylaw is invalid and the builder of the Outback resort is owed $2.8 million for installing a sewer line.

“Our lawyer feels confident but cautioned that when you are the appellant, you don’t know what can happen,” said Kim Flick, the city’s community development manager.

Okanagan Land Development began construction of the Outback in 2004 and while the developer proposed treating sewage on site, the city insisted that a sewer main be extended along Eastside Road.

The October court decision stated that the city should have charged a fee to all 53 benefitting properties along the sewer route, whether they connect to the line or not, so Okanagan Land could be reimbursed its costs.

Instead, the city’s current bylaw calls for payment towards the developer when someone connects to sewer at the subdivision or building permit stage.

“All  local governments in the province do it this way and all local governments are watching this case as to when we can collect (fees),” said Flick.

If the city loses the appeal, Flick says the city will rewrite its bylaws so the properties along Eastside Road are billed for the costs of installing sewer.

“Taxpayers are not on the hook for $3 million,” she said.

Monday’s appeal application was heard by three lawyers.

“Judgement has been reserved,” said Reinhard Burke, a Kamloops lawyer representing Okanagan Land Development.

“We will probably get a written judgement in about a month’s time.”

Burke has previously stated his client always expected he would recover the majority of the costs for the line.

“When Vernon made my client build this line, the city identified properties that could be developed in the future. Within a year, they changed the official community plan so none of the hillside lands could be developed,” he said.