A struggle between public and private played out in B.C. Supreme Court last week.
A judicial review, initiated by Friends of Strathcona Park, focused on the provincial government’s decision to place private business interests above the best interests of the public and the park.
After hearing both sides, Justice Sigurdson decided to reserve judgment.
“We hope that this case will help set a precedent ensuring protection of our province’s parks,” says Bridget Horel, a Friends of Strathcona Park spokesperson.
“The granting of this permit is being challenged on the grounds that the minister of the environment never considered whether or not the permit was necessary,” explains Scott Bernstein, lawyer for the Friends. “While government looked at whether it was financially beneficial to them, they did not address the key question, whether it was necessary to preserve and maintain the existing recreational values of the park, as is required by the Park Act.”
B.C. government lawyer Leah Greathead suggests in her argument that the jurisdiction of ministers and bureaucrats is beyond the reach of the court. She continued that the minister had full authority, under the Park Act, to make the decision that he made.
“It seems as though our Province is saying that the public and the courts have no place in questioning the decisions they make,” Horel says. “We believe that provincial parks are to be kept for the public and that the public does have a right to say whether or not parks can be sold, privatized or commercialized.”
The judicial review concluded Friday, but the public will have to wait to hear the outcome of this court case until a written decision has been provided. For more information or to find out how to donate, go to the Friends of Strathcona Park website.
— Friends of Strathcona Park