Courtenay appears to have some justification for its legal action against Maple Pool Campsite owners Dali and Jin Lin.
Thanks to an increasing litigious society, the City seems to have a legitimate concern.
The campground is built on a floodplain. The issue is whether the City, by not enforcing one of its many bylaws, would be legally liable should a flood injure or kill a Maple Pool resident or cause property damage.
That seems to be a fair concern legally and in the interest of City Hall’s obligation to protect the interests of Courtenay citizens, especially its taxpayers.
This situation is not unique to Courtenay or the Comox Valley.
A few years ago in Vancouver, City staff tried to shut down a rooming house, which caught fire and killed three men before it was closed.
Was the municipality responsible? If a lawsuit is filed, a judge has to decide these matters, and taxpayers have to pay whatever bill arises.
Former Courtenay chief administrative officer Sandy Gray was not on great ground, though, when he repeatedly stated the issue of Maple Pool residents one eviction away from homelessness just muddied what he saw as strictly a zoning issue.
Many Comox Valley residents and even a Supreme Court judge in Nanaimo seem to believe the plight of 50 almost-homeless people is more than an inconvenient complication.
Gray and the City suffered a PR black eye when he ordered the Lins to evict their tenants. He granted a six-month extension, but the two sides have not been able to agree on a solution.
David Allen, Gray’s successor, has inherited this legal landmine that he is trying not to step on.
A costly legal action would not be in the best interest of the City, its taxpayers, the Lins or their residents.
Is there still time and enough good faith to step back from the courts?
The Lins must step up to the plate and do what they can to address the City’s concerns. Perhaps Allen can find a non-legal option where Gray could not.