Appeal in Otter Lake landfill water quality case dismissed
Crown sought new trial and accused Halifax of breaching condition of approval
A Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge has thrown cold water on a bid by the Crown to appeal a lower court ruling that found there was no evidence Halifax breached water-quality standards at its Otter Lake landfill.
In February 2014 the city was charged under the Environmental Act, accused of allowing too much sediment in water being discharged from the landfill into nearby Nine Mile River.
The province's Environment Department issued a $693.95 ticket against the city.
In January 2015, provincial court Judge Bill Digby tossed the charge and said there was no evidence to support allegations the facility had exceeded surface water standards.
The Crown appealed in July 2015 and asked for a new trial, alleging the city breached a condition of the facility's operations approval.
The condition in question outlines how often surface water samples should be taken and the allowed maximums of total suspended solids — or sediment.
In a decision released Tuesday, Justice Patrick Duncan agreed with Digby — there wasn't proof that muddy surface water was entering Nine Mile River.
Duncan also questioned the wording of the condition the Crown had zeroed in on. In his decision, Duncan said the section "is not certain and not clear in its meaning."
"The text could support the interpretations offered by either the Crown or the respondent," he wrote.
Duncan dismissed the appeal and said the approval condition isn't specific enough to support the Crown's appeal.
He said the province can regulate Otter Lake's environmental conditions "without affixing quasi-criminal liability."