Court stays a hearing on petition aimed at ousting Greenwood council members

Justice Rogers identified the alleged lack of compliance as a threshold issue in regards to the petition filed this summer.

The Supreme Court stayed a hearing on the Petition, a court document filed this summer aimed at ousting four members of Greenwood City Council.

The court’s decision was outlined in a letter to the city from Barry Williamson of Young Anderson Barristers and Solicitors.

In it, Williamson summarized Justice Peter Rogers ruling that the petition was not in compliance with the Community Charter Section 111, and consequently was inadmissable. However, the petitioners do retain the option of rewriting the petition so that it complies with the charter and submitting the revised document to the court.

“The status of the petition following Justice Rogers’ ruling, is that it is stayed until the deficiency in the initial proceeding has been remedied,” Williamson said. “While we understand Mr. Yates is interested in reserving a date for a hearing of the petition grounds, in our view this would be premature until a petition in proper form has been filed by the petitioners.”

The letter, which is now on public record at City Hall, also included several paraphrased descriptions of Justice Peter Rogers’ findings during the proceedings.

“While Exhibit ‘A’ to the affidavit filed by Mr. (Christopher) Yates is a petition signed by 26 individuals in support of the petition,” Williamson wrote, “they are not named as petitioners in the petition itself. Mr Yates had framed the style of cause as ‘Yates et al.’ As Justice Rogers noted, there is no individual named ‘et al’, although it is a term frequently employed to refer to a number of plaintiffs, petitioners, respondents or defendants. It is not, as pointed out by the court, a substitute, however, for properly naming the required parties in an initiating process, such as a petition.

“Justice Rogers identified the alleged lack of compliance as a threshold issue that should be addressed at the outset as the outcome could conceivably result in the dismissal of the proceeding,” continued Williamson.

“After hearing brief submissions, the judge ruled orally that the petition, as filed, was deficient for failing to comply with Section 111 of the Community Charter. The significance of the 10 petitioner (minimum) requirement was to ensure, in the judge’s words, that as few as one or two disgruntled individuals could set in motion such an important process. The Legislature deliberately imposed the 10 petitioner requirement to address that concern.”

The letter goes on to describe the allegations of the petition and outlines Rogers’ costs ruling. “Justice Rogers ruled that the respondents were entitled to their costs of the cause in respect of the Nov. 18th hearing. That means that if the respondents are successful in the end result of having the petition dismissed, they have certainty that the costs of this hearing have been awarded in their favour. However the petitioners cannot recover any costs in relation to the court ruling to stay the petition even if they were to succeed later.”

When reached for comment regarding the letter, Yates said, “It is defamation, which has led to a complaint being filed with the law society against the lawyer and a copy being sworn into record for the judge to see when we are next before him.”

Lawyer Williamson told the Boundary Creek Times that the letter’s content was derived entirely from Justice Rogers’ Nov. 18 hearing, and that Rogers’ oral ruling would eventually be transcribed. Williamson also stated that his letter was typical of standard practice, whereby such correspondence is designed to summarize court proceedings for those unable to attend a hearing.

Mayor Smith declined to comment at this juncture.