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Man who files $15 million suit doesn't attend court hearing

Jack Dewitte had to add two feet to the top of his well to keep it above the soil and gravel that tumbled down the Nathan Creek tributaries into Glen Valley five years ago. The original creek bed was filled and water flowed across farmland before entering the Fraser. He is one of the people named in a lawsuit by Robin Scory

Aldergrove property owner Robin Scory did not attend the hearing of his $15 million lawsuit against critics of his proposal to dump thousands of truckloads of dirt on his land.

The trial proceeded without him Tuesday morning in Chilliwack.

One of the lawyers for the people being sued said there was a “flurry of e-mails” over the weekend, in which Scory informed them that he would be unable to attend because he would be busy volunteering with a society that “distributes food to HIV-Positive people.”

And he would also be in a phone conference for some medical purpose with a doctor in Washington State.

Scory made some last-minute written submissions, including a faxed affidavit that arrived at one lawyer’s office at 1:33 a.m. the morning of the trial, the judge was told.

Justice Catherine Bruce ruled that Scory’s written statements would be treated as though he made those arguments in person.

The hearing began with Tim Leadem, the lawyer for defendants Glen Valley Watershed Society (GVWS), saying the lawsuit should be thrown out because Scory hasn’t backed up his complaint that some environmental activists conspired to deliberately spread false statements about him.

Leadem revealed that when Scory did appear for a pre-trial examination, he claimed that he had been offered $25 a truckload to take soil from work on the Trans-Canada Highway.

He was unable to provide proof of a deal, Leadem said.

Scory, the owner of a 160-acre parcel of land at 7306 264 St. applied for permits to create a turf farm on 66 acres of the previously undeveloped property by using up to 100,000 truck loads of fill to smooth out the rugged terrain.

Opponents, many of them neighbours, complained it could be the largest fill site in Lower Mainland history and mounted a campaign to scuttle the proposal.

At a packed Langley Township council meeting in 2010, councillors unanimously voted to ask the Agricultural Land Commission, the body that has the final say over the application, to delay approval until the environmental impact has been studied further.

A few months later, Scory filed a $15 million dollar lawsuit against two individuals and one organization in the B.C. Supreme Court Chilliwack registry.

The lawsuit accused Sian Krannitz, Jack Dewitte and the Glen Valley Watershed Society (GVWS) of interfering with Scory’s right to farm and demands $6.5 million each from Krannitz and the GVWS and $2 million from Dewitte.

In his written notice of civil claim filed Sept. 1, 2010, Scory accused Krannitz of making “misleading, false, fabricated and unproven statements” to get signatures on a petition opposing the fill and to convince Aldergrove-Fort Langley MLA Rich Coleman to oppose the application.

Scory complained that Krannitz and the GVWS “constantly, repeatedly and incessantly” communicated such claims to media outlets including The Times and the Aldergrove Star.

And he claimed that Krannitz and the GVWS were endangering the public and violating his rights by using a “low flying aircraft to photograph and monitor Robin Scory and his farming activities at 7306 264 St.”

The portion of the lawsuit dealing with Dewitte, who lives near the proposed fill site, takes issue with his claim about earlier  runoff issues. Another farm soil deposit five years ago, similar to the Scory proposal, forced Dewitte to add another two-foot section to the top of his well to stop silt and flood waters from spilling into his drinking water.

That was “not physically possible,” Scory said.

The Scory allegations have not been proven in court and have been denied by the people named in the lawsuit and the GVWS.

In their written application to have the lawsuit thrown out, the lawyers for Krannitz, Dewitte and the GVWS called it an attempt to intimidate them from expressing their opinions “on an issue of social, economic, environmental and political significance in their community” describing it as an “an abuse of the process of this court.

The judge reserved decision on the case Tuesday afternoon.

Dan Ferguson

About the Author: Dan Ferguson

Dan Ferguson has worked for a variety of print and broadcast outlets in Canada and the U.S.
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