A Vancouver Island retiree is asking the B.C. Supreme Court to overturn a judge’s order that he remove an accommodation barge from the sea floor off Quadra Island by Aug. 31.
Douglas Rodgers of Black Creek and his formerly operating company Quadra Management Ltd. face the deadline set June 14 by Justice Gordon Weatherill.
In the provincial government’s May 29 filing, it alleged that the barge was moored without authorization at Gowlland Harbour, the defendants ignored four trespass notices in 2021 before it sunk in September of that year and the partially submerged barge remains both a hazard and a nuisance.
“The respondents have allowed the barge to trespass on the Crown foreshore for
approximately two years, interfering with, endangering, or damaging: Crown land, the use of the land by the We Wai Kai First Nation and the We Wai Kum First Nation, important archaeological sites including shell midden sites, many campers at Camp Homewood, and local businesses,” said the province’s May 29 action, filed in the Nanaimo registry.
In his Aug. 18 affidavit, Rodgers explained that he did not initially respond to the lawsuit “due to my belief that I was not a proper defendant in this matter.” The province consented for him to file a late statement of defence on July 12.
Rodgers alleged that the actual ownership of the barge remained with Point Roberts Resorts LP. He explained that the barge was in transit and in the care and control of West Coast Tug and Barge of Campbell River, until delivered to Gowlland Harbour.
Once there, the floating lodge came under the care and control of Seascape Resort and its owner, Wesley Kinsley, which had an option to buy the barge.
“The Seascape property by way of foreclosure then came under the control of Irene Wenngatz and her company who appointed Matthew Liang as receiver manager of the resort,” said the Rodgers’ affidavit. “As a result of the neglect of Matthew Liang to properly manage the property, bilge pumps that had kept the barge afloat were turned off, resulting in the sinking of the barge.”
Kinsley, Liang and Wenngatz are the other individual defendants named by the province.
The Rodgers affidavit said that the raising of the sunken barge was “rendered unworkable” due to currents and water flow in the harbour, so it needs to be dismantled, rather than raised.
The province’s application said the Ministry of Forests sent a letter of non-conformance in March 2019 to then-Seascape owner Wenngatz. Wenngatz applied to the Ministry to amend the licence of occupation, but failed to meet the requirement to move the barge by the end of March 2021.
Between May 2019 and June 2021, the barge was arrested under a federal court order, related to Point Roberts Resort LP’s breach of contract lawsuit against Rodgers and Quadra Management.
The petition by Rodgers said the matter should be handled in the Campbell River court because that is nearest his residence, and that neither he nor Quadra Management are the proper defendants.
“Had these facts been before the Honourable Justice Weatherill, he would not have made the order that he did,” Rodgers claimed in the filing made by his lawyer, Tom Finkelstein.
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