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METRO VANCOUVER - The Outdoor Recreation Council of B.C. on Monday lost a legal bid to stop the City of Chilliwack from rezoning a 1.78-hectare site near the Fraser River to permit a hazardous waste facility.

The council, along with Glen Thompson of Friends of Chilliwack River Valley, had argued that the public notice that preceded a public hearing on Dec. 3, 2013, mentioned a “waste recycling and transfer facility,” but did not expressly state that the facility would handle “hazardous” waste.

In a written decision, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Peter Voith ruled that the notice “described the general purpose of the bylaw sufficiently to enable citizens to decide whether they wanted more information on the bylaw or whether they wished to attend at the public meeting.”

Ontario-based Aevitas Inc. obtained city permission to rezone the property — part of the Cattermole Lands — from heavy industrial to special industrial to allow for the monthly recycling of 5,000 litres of transformer oil containing PCBs and 500,000 lamps containing mercury.

Council spokesman Mark Angelo said he is disappointed with the court decision and that an appeal is being considered. The site is situated within 150 metres of the Fraser and “water moves back and forth regularly from the nearby Bert Brink Wildlife Management area,” he said.

The council supports the need for facilities that “gather, treat and transfer toxic wastes, but this particular issue centers around an inappropriate and dangerous location,” Angelo noted.

“Across North America, there are no hazardous waste treatment plants being built today beside rivers because these plants have an inherent danger to them in terms of potential leakage, seepage and spills. If there was an accident, a riverside location provides no grace.”

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