Future uncertain for Nita Lake Lodge 

If employee housing lost it will be ‘a huge setback’

Though the foundations for the Nita Lake Lodge development may already be in the ground, the future of the project is on shaky footing.

The municipality and the developers were reeling from the news this week and scrambling to plan their next steps after a B.C. Supreme Court Judge ruled the development bylaw is illegal.

Developer John Haibeck would not comment on the lawsuit this week and the municipality could not comment in depth about the future.

"There are a variety of options that we’re going to be considering over the next few days," said Bob MacPherson, general manager of planning and development.

The municipality is rallying to review its next steps. As such, few were willing to comment on what lies ahead.

"We really don’t want to say much until we’ve had an opportunity to meet with our lawyers but like any litigation file, it’s not over ‘til it’s over," said Councillor Nick Davies.

Councillor Ken Melamed, who opposed the development, pointed out that clearly a majority of council wanted to move ahead with this project when they voted on it last year.

"Obviously and clearly the will of council was to approve the lodge," he said.

"I guess it’s likely that there’ll be an appeal."

For that reason, MLA Ted Nebbeling could not comment on the case because it may still go before the court.

If there is an appeal, Keith Lambert will not easily give up his victory.

"We’ll attend to the appeal if it’s appealed," he said.

Another option is that the municipality could rezone the site by drawing up a new bylaw.

"The municipality can always rezone this site, that’s not a problem, but they obviously have to do it in accordance with the law and in accordance with the powers of the Local Government Act," said Michael Vaughan, a municipal lawyer with Owen Bird, wholly unconnected to the case.

"The Lamberts in this battle have certainly pointed out to the municipality that if they are going to do things they can’t do them improperly.

"(The municipality is) going to have to rethink the structure of the bylaw if they want to do the same thing and they probably will have to look very long and hard at the whole process of negotiating for amenities."

The Lamberts’ lawyer, George Macintosh, pointed out that if the municipality rewrites the bylaw, it will force another public hearing.

That would make it the third public hearing for this development.

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