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City of Surrey loses court bid to have 84 Avenue petitioners pay its legal costs

City argued petitioners ‘acted as private citizens and were pursuing their personal and political goals’ in asking court to stop construction of 84 Avenue connector
Future route of the 84 Avenue connector in Newton, at the southern end of Bear Creek Park. (Submitted photo)

The City of Surrey has lost its bid in B.C. Supreme Court to have Forces of Nature Society pay for the city’s legal costs after a judge dismissed the environmental group’s petition for the court to prohibit further construction related to the 84 Avenue connector road at the southern end of Bear Creek Park.

The Force of Nature Society, Sebastian Sajda and Annie Kaps unsuccessfully sought to have declared parkland properties impacted by the project. Justice Sheila Tucker dismissed the petition in late 2021.

The City of Surrey is connecting 140 Street and King George Boulevard by building a new stretch of 84 Avenue. Tucker noted the Forces of Nature Society, of which Sajda is president, has about 140 voting members and 42,000 supporters. Sajda is also running for a seat on council with the Surrey Connect Slate. Kaps is a Surrey resident.

After Tucker dismissed the petition, the city sought costs against the petitioners, who in turn argued the court proceedings were in the public interest and both sides should pay their own tab.

Counsel for the city argued that the petitioners “acted as private citizens and were pursuing their personal and political goals.”

In her May 17 reasons for judgment, Tucker found in her analysis that evidence demonstrates the prospect of building the connector “has consistently given rise to contentious public debate and opposition whenever proposed or raised for discussion over the past 20 years.

“Public awareness, interest in and concern about environmental issues, including the protection of public greenspaces, has only increased during that period,” she added.

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Though the petition failed and no issue of “jurisprudential import” was resolved, Tucker noted, the court proceeding “nonetheless clarified” Surrey’s right to build the road.

“Given two decades of significant public opposition, it was to the benefit of the public – and likely to the city itself – to have the status of the land determined,” she added.

“I am satisfied that it is appropriate for the parties to bear their own costs of the proceeding,” Tucker concluded. “The parties will each bear their own costs throughout.”

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About the Author: Tom Zytaruk

I write unvarnished opinion columns and unbiased news reports for the Surrey Now-Leader.
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