Langley Township has won a legal fight in a six-year battle to clean up illegally dumped fill from a rural Aldergrove property.
Mandeep Dhillon bought the land in the 5700 block of 264th Street in 2016, but the issues with the land go back to the previous owners, according to the decision of Justice Leonard Marchand.
In February, 2014, the Township discovered that the owners before Dhillon had been dumping unauthorized fill on the property. Illegal fill, often soil from building sites, has long been an issue in Langley Township.
A stop-work order was issued and and the owners were ordered to clear away the fill.
But on June 19, a follow up inspection found nothing had been done. Another order to clean up the soil was issued.
In July of that year, the Agricultural Land Commission got involved, issuing its own stop work order and requiring the then-owners to rehabilitate the property back to its original agricultural capacity, under the supervision of a professional agrologist. The ALC handed down a deadline of July 30, 2014.
Despite those orders, when Dhillon bought the land, in a court-approved sale, on June 30, 2016, none of the fill had been removed.
Throughout the latter half of 2016 and into 2017, the Township “corresponded extensively,” with Dhillon about the issues with the land, and about his obligation as the owner to remove the fill.
He was told he would need to obtain a remediation report from a qualified professional, and would be required to remove the fill.
Dhillon didn’t, so the Township took him to court.
On Sept. 19, 2017, Dhillon signed a consent order with the Township that, among other things, required him to again hire a qualified professional and put together a plan to remove the fill and repair the damage to the land.
The report was completed and the plan was to remove the fill starting on March 20, 2018, when the weather was expected to be good enough to get the work done.
But no work was done.
The Township even issued $90,000 worth of tickets to Dhillon, one $1,000 ticket for noncompliance a day for three months.
The Township went back to court, asking Marchand to find Dhillon in contempt of the original consent order, although Dhillon noted he had arranged for the removal of some truckloads of fill in the summer of 2019.
Dhillon spoke in his defense at a hearing last November.
“Without providing any evidence, Mr. Dhillon submitted that he got in over his head when he purchased the property not knowing that he would have to complete such extensive remediation work,” Marchand wrote in his judgment. “He further submitted that he has been trying to comply with the Township’s requirements but has not had the money to do so.”
After that hearing, Dhillon didn’t file any further documents with the court.
“In the absence of any evidence from Mr. Dhillon, I am compelled to conclude that his inaction was deliberate,” wrote Marchand.
He noted that Dhillon had the resources to buy the property, hire a lawyer in 2017, hire a professional to create a plan to clean up the property, and he has paid fines to the Township.
Marchand found Dhillon in contempt, ordered a new $5,000 fine, and special costs. The order to clean up the site also remains in effect.