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Islands Trust launches court action regarding Komas Bluff

The Denman Island Local Trust Committee has filed proceedings in BC Supreme Court seeking a court order requiring Daniel John Stoneman and Debra Monica Stoneman to remove a pathway and stairs on the face of the Komas Bluff.

In an action supported by the Islands Trust executive committee, the Denman Island group also seeks an order for the pair to obtain a development permit for their house and outbuildings within the Komas Bluff Development Permit Area.

In 2005, the BC Supreme Court found that the previous owner of the property, Mr. Ellis, had contravened the Local Government Act by altering land in the Komas Bluff Development Permit Area without a development permit. The court prohibited “cutting trees on, clearing, developing, excavating or otherwise altering” the Stoneman property within 50 metres of the top edge of the Komas Bluff or on the face of the Komas Bluff.

In that action, the court rejected the many arguments made by Mr. Ellis and Mr. Stoneman that the Komas Bluff Development Permit Area was invalid or inapplicable to the property, and that they did not require further development permits to alter the land.

Costs were awarded against Mr. Ellis, but not against Mr. and Mrs. Stoneman at that time, on the basis that there was no indication that the Stonemans would continue the unauthorized clearing and land alterations on the property.

In 2007, the BC Court of Appeal upheld the orders of the BC Supreme Court, and specifically the Komas Bluff Development Permit Area as validly protecting development from hazardous conditions through restrictions on land alteration and tree-clearing on the Stoneman property.

In 2003, a significant slump on the property received provincewide attention. A geotechnical report prepared by Thurber Engineering concluded the slump was a result of “incautious human activity” —  tree-cutting and ditching too close to the crest of the bluff without a development permit.

The Denman Island Local Trust Committee is seeking a court injunction to require the Stonemans to remove a path and stairs on the face of the bluff, to implement the requirements of a geotechnical report to remediate the property,

and to complete their development permit application in relation to their house and outbuildings in accordance with geotechnical recommendations.

The Stonemans have initiated two court actions of their own against the Denman Island Local Trust Committee, claiming the Komas Bluff Development Permit Area is invalid, that they do not require a development permit for the house and outbuildings, and that local trustees and staff have acted improperly.

The Islands Trust has agreed that the Stonemans’ judicial review may be heard together with its application for enforcement of the Komas Bluff development permit requirements, which is set for the week of Oct. 29.  A trial regarding the second of the Stonemans’ actions is scheduled for February 2013.

— Islands Trust

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