OTTAWA–Sierra Club Canada is appealing the BC Supreme Court decision on the Gas N Go project in Comox Valley, British Columbia. The court ruled against Sierra Club Canada’s request to quash the issuing of a development permit for the gas station, which if built would devastate an important watershed.
“We have reviewed the judge’s decision and believe there are grounds for an appeal,” said John Bennett, Executive Director of Sierra Club Canada. “This is an important case not only for protecting this estuary in the Comox Valley, but for other estuaries and watersheds in the rest of B.C. as well.”
Mike Bell, Chair of the Sierra Club Comox Valley, noted the local group was reinvigorated with the decision to appeal. “Gas service stations have a notorious reputation for polluting nearby bodies of water through spills and runoff”, said Bell.
The Gas N Go station poses real risks to the environment. The site is in the middle of a Canadian Important Bird Area with the second highest concentration of over-wintering waterfowl in B.C. including Trumpeter Swans. The area provides an essential habitat for threatened species, endemic species and has an exceptional concentration of birds.
There are a number of other environmental concerns with allowing this development to go forward. The site is only a few meters from a critical rearing area for endangered salmon stock. It is in a floodplain area subject to flooding, which occurred close-by twice this winter. The ground is in an earthquake zone and is inherently unstable—as was demonstrated by the 1946 earthquake in the area, which caused liquefaction in surrounding fields and damage on the Dyke Road where the station is being planned.
Along with Sierra Club Canada, West Coast Environmental Law supported the initial law suit and is also supporting the appeal. Sierra Club B.C. has provided organizational support and Jennifer Millbank, Nanaimo, is legal counsel for the group.
Sierra Club Comox Valley must provide funds to cover current and potential court costs. “We will be turning to the community to provide financial support through our newly created Courtenay River Estuary Legal Fund,” said Bell. “This estuary and watershed is much more important to our community than another gas station.”