Crematorium court ruling sets risky tone in zoning law, CVRD manager says

An appeal-court ruling allowing commercial cremation near Paldi sets a dangerous precedent for zoning conflicts across B.C., Cowichan region's new planning-and-development boss indicates.

"Local governments will be confused because there's conflicting direction from the courts," Ross Blackwell told the News Leader Pictorial after Tuesday's decision.

He was disappointed the appeal court reversed an earlier ruling, in Cowichan Valley Regional District's favour, by B.C.'s Supreme Court.

"This case represents the inherent nature of relying on the court system in planning law," he said Thursday as taxpayer costs of the case were being tallied.

"It's not necessarily a question of black and white; it's a question of interpretation."

Blackwell added case law in such zoning disputes is "often highly complex and nuanced."

The CVRD and its lawyers, Young Anderson, did not misinterpret its P-1 zoning bylaws regarding the crematorium, he insisted — and that wisdom was upheld by the lower supreme court.

"I was quite shocked to read the appeal court's ruling and how the judge assessed the ruling, Blackwell said, citing "the narrow focus the court chose."

"It's a significant departure from the Supreme Court of B.C. that was consistent with case law."

Blackwell declined to say if the CVRD will now appeal the appeal court's ruling to the Supreme Court of Canada.

"The CVRD will reflect on this (Aug. 26) decision and assess its implications."

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