(cont.) Plaza site given Certificate of Compliance

    The ministry stated that the Certificate of Compliance is based on the most recent information provided to the ministry which made no representation or warranty as to the accuracy or completeness of this information. “This Certificate of Compliance should not be construed as an assurance that there are no hazards present on the site described above.”
    It also stated that the principal risk management conditions on which the risk assessment was based include: land use at the site must remain commercial; and groundwater must not be used for drinking water purposes. The plan that Saanich approved in 1999 included 16 apartments above shops as well as a supermarket and a bank building.
    Shell Canada has said that remediation on the former gas station site between 2002 and 2006 resulted in a significant reduction in sub-surface hydrocarbons “to the point where diminishing recovery of hydrocarbons led to no further need to operate the system” and the company predicted that remaining sub-surface hydrocarbons “will biodegrade naturally.”
    The plaza commented to the CBA, “Everything will have to be discussed with the owners as to where do we go next as they have not given it much thought until they knew the certificate was available. Without having spoken with them I can say redevelopment can’t happen now for at least five years given the new lease with the grocery store.” Tru Value Foods opened for business in the plaza on April 11.
    The ministry’s decision can be read in full by clicking here.

    Cordova Bay Plaza news

    What’s happening these days at Cordova Bay Plaza? A new plaza development with a much bigger supermarket, 16 apartments above shops in another building, and a stand-alone Scotiabank building was approved by Saanich council in 1999. But before the Development Permit was issued – underground gasoline pollution was detected and the development could not go ahead. Former CBA president Roger Stonebanks, a retired journalist, asks – what will happen to the 1960 strip mall? And, when? Here’s the future of the Cordova Bay plaza as written by Roger Stonebanks, CBA member: by clicking here.

    Older news on this issue

    Cordova Bay Plaza lawsuits settled

    Spokespersons for Shell Canada and Cordova Bay Plaza confirmed on Friday 4 June 2011 to the Cordova Bay Association for Community Affairs that the long-standing lawsuits and countersuits over underground gasoline pollution have been settled.

    “I can report that a confidential settlement has been reached between the parties,” said Shell spokesperson Jeff Gabert of Calgary. “Our environmental consultant will be on site in the coming weeks to do an assessment of what work needs to be done and we’ll move forward from there.

    “We appreciate the community’s patience and understanding to this point. There is a lot of work still to be done, but this is a good step for us and the community, as you will now see some activity at the plaza.”

    A spokesperson for the plaza said a settlement acceptable to all parties has been reached and that Shell will be “on the site in the coming weeks.”

    Neither spokesperson would disclose specifics of the out-of-court settlement because of a confidentiality agreement. Such confidentiality agreements are standard practice when civil lawsuits are settled between the parties.

    For more information and background, please click here: “Plaza lawsuits move towards settlement”.

    Plaza lawsuits move toward settlement

    The long-running court case over responsibility for underground gasoline pollution at Cordova Bay Plaza, that has held up development of a new shopping centre, is moving towards a settlement.

    The lawsuit and counter-suits involve Shell Canada Products Ltd., Chevron Canada Ltd., Your Family Food Mart Ltd. (current plaza owner) and McMorran’s Cordova Bay Ltd. (previous plaza owner). The case was to have gone to trial on April 12 in BC Supreme Court in Vancouver. But all parties agreed to an adjournment without setting a new trial date – which is often an indication in civil suits that an out-of-court settlement has been reached or is pending.

    Shell spokesman, Jeff Gabert, told the Cordova Bay Association for Community Affairs in a telephone interview from his office in Calgary on April 8 that the parties “have reached a preliminary settlement. I can’t say more now. There are further discussions to be had. I can’t go into details.”

    Beyond settling the court case, there remains the matter of cleaning up the pollution. A plaza spokesperson said a plan has to be approved by the Ministry of the Environment before any clean-up will start “but I would expect sometime soon – nothing is firm yet.”

    Plaza pollution: allegations and denials

    It will be claim and counter-claim, allegation and denial, when two major oil companies and the past and present owners of Cordova Bay Plaza square off in BC Supreme Court in Vancouver in a three-week trial that is set to start on 12 April 2010 over responsibility for underground gasoline pollution.

    See separate news story in The Cordovan, Winter 2009, Vol. 33, No. 4, posted under “Newsletter” on this website).

    A brand-new shopping centre with 3,586 square metres (38,599 square feet) of commercial floor space – a supermarket, shops, 16 apartments and a specific building for Scotiabank – was approved by Saanich council in 1999 following a year of public input to replace the 1960 plaza.

    But council withheld issuance of the Development Permit pending consolidation of the two legal lots that comprise the plaza property and “confirmation from the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks that no site remediation is required.” Because neither of council’s conditions has been met, the new shopping centre has been stalled in time.

    Efforts to settle the dispute by private arbitration after the lawsuits were filed were unsuccessful so a judge will settle the differences between Shell Canada Products Ltd., Chevron Canada Ltd., Your Family Food Mart Ltd., the corporate owner of Cordova Bay Plaza, and McMorran’s Cordova Bay Ltd., the previous owner that sold the property in 1972.

    The two locations on which court attention is focused are the northeast corner of the plaza property, where there was a Chevron service station that closed in 1979 and its underground gasoline tanks removed, and across Doumac Avenue behind the fencing where there was a PayLess Gas/Shell station that closed in 1997.

    The allegations and denials are set out in statements of claim and defence and a counter-claim and defence running to 36 pages and filed at the Vancouver Law Courts in 2005 and 2006. The documents contain allegations that have not been proved in court. That will be decided by the judge at the trial.

    Shell Canada is the plaintiff and its allegations include: that contaminants were discharged from the plaza gas station; that the contaminants migrated to neighbouring properties; that the neighbouring properties were contaminated; Shell has incurred costs remediating and cleaning up contaminants; that the past and present plaza owners and Chevron (the defendants) are responsible; that Shell, by its remediation, has conferred a benefit to them to its detriment.

    Shell is claiming unstated damages for its remediation costs in its site clean-up; for negligence by the defendants or for their unjust enrichment at Shell’s expense.

    Your Family Food Mart (YFFM), in its statement of defence, expressly denied Shell’s allegations and said that gasoline was last stored on its property in 1979 when the underground storage tanks were removed. Any soil contamination would no longer be present on its or neighbouring properties and the land slopes away from the Shell property. However, YFFM said its property is contaminated from the Shell property – it originated and migrated from the Shell property.

    YFFM said all remediation costs incurred by Shell, past or future, related to remediating its property or neighbouring properties, are the responsibility of Shell and it asked that Shell’s action be dismissed.

    McMorran’s Cordova Bay Ltd. also denied Shell’s allegations. It says Chevron removed all its equipment from the service station site in 1981 and the excavation was filled with coarse sand and gravel. When the service station building itself was removed in the late 1990s “there were no contaminants in the earth removed as part of the excavation.”

    Chevron Canada Ltd. also denied Shell’s allegations and denied contaminating the property itself.

    After the denials, Your Family Food Mart submitted a counter-claim that it was Shell that caused the Shell property to become contaminated and that the contamination escaped and migrated from there. It now contaminates the YFFM property and adjacent properties and YFFM “has suffered and continues to suffer damages and loss” for which it seeks judgment for costs and damages.

    In turn, Shell denied the allegations in the counter-claim including that the YFFM property became contaminated as a result of Shell’s negligence and denied that contaminants escaped or migrated from its property. But if escape and migration occurred – “which is denied” – then Shell “voluntarily commenced remediation” for which it incurred costs “and claims a setoff for those costs.” If YFFM has suffered loss or damage or incurred costs of remediation – “which is denied” – YFFM “has failed to take any steps or any reasonable steps to mitigate its damage or loss.”

Letters to the Editor

You are always welcome to write to the CBA board of directors if you have a question or comment relevant to Cordova Bay. One of the directors will be pleased to respond. Please contact us by e-mail: president@cbaca.ca. We look forward to hearing from you.

Cordova Bay Road Sidewalk Improvement Plan

The following message is from Saanich Council Cordova Bay Road Improvement Project: Rambler Road to Walema Avenue Project Description:  The District of Saanich is undertaking an active transportation improvement project on […]

Read More