Whistler to pay at least $1.3 million after second Rainbow appeal dismissed 

Resort Municipality of Whistler looking into new counsel after lawyer did not file documents associated with appeal

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By Jesse Ferreras and Alison Taylor

Council has finally balanced the 2011 budget but now it will have to find at least $1.3 million more in municipal coffers after losing the Rainbow Park expropriation suit.

That's about $1 million more than the municipality initially paid the Saxton family in 1987 when it expropriated the family's land to create Rainbow Park.

"This council felt it was worth the effort (to pursue the appeal)," said Mayor Ken Melamed in his report at Tuesday's meeting, explaining that the appeal cost less than the $1.3 million and there was a chance the municipality could win the lawsuit.

"Staff and council are considering options to fund the settlement."

No other council members commented on the million-dollar blow at the meeting, the final tally of which will include interest and costs.

Behind closed doors, however, council has discussed ending its long-standing relationship with the law firm Young Anderson, which represented the Resort Municipality of Whistler in this case.

"Not filing, not even showing up, we weren't pleased," said the mayor after the council meeting. "But the fact that it didn't contribute to the outcome means there's really no repercussion."

He was referring to the B.C. Court of Appeal judgment last week that said an appeal by Whistler was "bound to fail" regardless of the performance of the legal team, which failed to file the factum, or facts of the appeal, in a timely manner.

Council has now decided to go out for a Request For Proposals for new law firms.

While the municipality uses several law firms depending on the matter, Young Anderson has been one of the principle legal firms for years.

The case has been going on for over 20 years, starting in 1987 when Whistler expropriated 44 hectares of property on Alta Lake to create Rainbow Park. At the time the land was owned by the Saxton family. Andrew Saxton is now campaigning for re-election as the Member of Parliament for North Vancouver.

The Saxtons argued the sum was too low and in March of 2010 a court agreed and awarded the family $1.3 million.

When judgment was handed down The Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) indicated its intention to appeal the decision with the factum to be filed in court by last July.

But July came and went without the necessary documents being filed in B.C. Supreme Court.

George MacIntosh, a Vancouver lawyer representing the Saxton family, made repeated requests for the factum. On August 13, 2010, he notified Whistler's counsel via e-mail that the factum was a month late.

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