Reconciliation weighs heavily in balance of convenience in Ladysmith Maritime Society v Ladysmith (Town), 2023 BCSC 2285
Ratcliff LLP was proud to represent Stz’uminus First Nation and its economic development company, Coast Salish Development Corporation, in arguing against a recent injunction application that would have delayed implementation of their Reconciliation Agreement.
On December 27, 2023, Justice Milman of the BC Supreme Court declined to grant an injunction as sought by the Ladysmith Maritime Society (“LMS”). LMS was seeking to prevent the Town of Ladysmith and the Province of British Columbia from implementing changes to a lease arrangement between the Province and the Town for a water lot in Ladysmith Harbour on which LMS operated a marina. The Town had taken the necessary steps to surrender its lease and the Province was on the verge of issuing a new lease effective January 1, 2024, to the economic development company for Stz’uminus First Nation (“SFN”).
Property Transfer Part of Reconciliation Agreement Implementation
The purpose of granting the new lease to SFN is to implement a term of the Reconciliation Agreement signed between SFN and the Province in March 2022, which called for the Province to facilitate the transfer of properties identified by SFN as high priority. The water lot on which the marina is located is one of these properties, and is in the heart of SFN territory. SFN will continue operating the marina, and has plans to remediate and redevelop the bay in which the marina is located in accordance with a Waterfront Plan jointly developed by SFN and the Town.
Public Interest in Promoting Reconciliation
After finding that LMS had raised a serious question, and that LMS would suffer irreparable harm if the order was not granted, Justice Milman turned to whether the balance of convenience favoured granting the order. He determined that the public interest in promoting reconciliation arises squarely in this matter, due to the need to ensure that the Reconciliation Agreement is implemented without further delay, according to its terms. The Court held: “any further delay of the scheduled transition would undermine the integrity of the reconciliation process, a factor which, I agree, weighs heavily in the balance of convenience against an injunction.”
The Court also considered the steps already taken by SFN toward implementation of the Reconciliation Agreement, and found that the uncertainty arising from an injunction would complicate this implementation. The Court found that significant and irreparable harms would arise from granting the injunction, and they would not be compensable in damages. On balance, the balance of convenience weighed against granting the injunction, and the Court declined to do so on this basis.
A link to the full decision can be found here: https://canlii.ca/t/k1xn6
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