By David F. Rooney
The City of Revelstoke is being sued for as much as $14 million by the Selkirk Land & Cattle Corporation in a dispute stretching back over seven years, as outlined in documents filed last week with the Supreme Court of British Columbia.
The action caught Revelstoke Mayor David Raven and the rest of City Council off guard.
“We were not aware of the lawsuit until just before Council (on Tuesday),” Raven said Wednesday, adding that he cannot make any comment regarding the lawsuit.
Copies of the documents filed September 28 with the Supreme Court in Kelowna by the law firm of Farris, Vaughan & Murphy state that Selkirk, whose agent is Robert Powadiuk, owned the former Egras Trailer Park off Camozzi Road as well as 106 acres f land upslope from the trailer park just past Joe Kozek’s Saw Mill.
The City approached Selkirk in 2004 and revealed that it planned on building a new reservoir on Crown land adjacent to Selkirk’s property. The City needed access through Selkirk’s property, which Selkirk, “wishing to gain vehicular access to its upper lands for future development, offered to forego any compensation and instead enter into an agreement which would provide the City with road access to the reservoir, its easement and Selkirk access to its upper lands,” the documents said.
A June 17, 2004, written agreement required the City to obtain a survey of a proposed roadway. “Instead, the City simply started construction. By the time Selkirk became aware, the reservoir was built (at an elevation approximately 10 metres higher than represented to Selkirk) and the water line was installed bot as shown on the schedule. Further, the City had encroached upon two lots in the trailer park subdivision rendering them unsalable and unusable,” the document said.
Selkirk asked the City to cease work, which it did in 2005 as it had completed enough of its road to permit four-by-four trucks to reach the reservoir. While Selkirk has permitted access ever since then, no true agreement has been reached between the two parties. The City’s Chief Administrative Officer at the time, Don DeGagne, resigned and took a position with another municipality. He was replaced by Ross McPhee who resigned when the two parties were “on the verge of a resolution.”
The documents claim that the new CAO, Tim Palmer, “has failed to grasp the issues or study the file” and they also claim that City Planner John Guenther has not visited the lands despite an invitation while “the Mayor and Council seem oblivious” to the issue.
While the reservoir was ready for the resort, the City has never thanked Selkirk, nor has it paid a single dime for access or rights and has left Selkirk with scarred lands and sloughing issues which the City ignores while using the road regularly.
“Selkirk, regrettably, sees no alternative but to stands on its rights,” the document said. “The claim could be for as much as $14 million. Ironically, Selkirk’s agent, Robert Powadiuk, is one of the persons most responsible for the creation of the ski resort. Selkirk, having done everything by the book is being treated with great disdain by the City. Yet another great message to the business community from the City.”