Waste management facilities, if not properly managed and
controlled, can create a significant environmental risk. The
recent ruling of the BC Provincial Court in R. v. Fraser Valley Disposal and Liang, 2015 BCPC 0127
confirms that if an operator of a waste management facility
violates applicable bylaws and licenses, fines should be
sufficiently significant to deter such conduct.
Fraser Valley Disposal operated a solid waste transfer station
in Surrey, pursuant to a license issued by the Greater
Vancouver Sewerage and Drainage District ("Metro
Vancouver"). Mr. and Mrs. Liang acquired the
business in 2010. Mr. Liang ran day-to-day operations and
Mrs. Liang was the sole director. In 2011, the marriage
started to fall apart and, eventually Mr. and Mrs. Liang divorced.
In 2012, Mrs. Liang sold the company.
In 2013, Metro Vancouver charged Fraser Valley Disposal and Mrs.
and Mrs. Liang with violating the GVSDD Solid Waste and
Recyclable Material Regulatory Bylaw No. 181 and the
applicable license. Metro Vancouver alleged that, on a number
of occasions, the company accepted unauthorized materials
(including asbestos) and accepted waste in excess of allowable
Fraser Valley Disposal and Mrs. Liang pled guilty. Mr.
Liang's whereabouts were unknown and he did not appear at the
hearing. Metro Vancouver sought fines against the company of
$72,000 and fines against Mrs. Liang of $2,100. The company
and Mrs. Liang challenged the amount of fines. Among other
things, they emphasized personal circumstances, Mr. Liang's
involvement, new owners' attempts to ensure compliance and the
The Provincial Court set out the applicable sentencing
considerations as follows:
" Courts in this province have
identified relevant considerations to be the criminality of the
conduct, its extent and timeframe; the extent of unsuccessful
enforcement efforts before proceedings; efforts to comply by the
offender with the legislation and licences; the extent of
environmental damage, if any; remorse, including pleas of guilty
and the presence of corporate officers in court as acknowledgment
of that offending conduct; profits realized through the violations
in issue and past offending history.
In the Court's view, fines "must not be just a cost to
be absorbed in the headlong pursuit of greater profit, but acts as
an effective deterrent to this operator and to others in the
In case of Fraser Valley Disposal, the Court found the conduct
egregious enough to warrant substantial fines. Taking into
account the fact that the company was fairly small, there was no
environmental damage, and Mrs. Liang was in financial difficulties,
the Court ordered that the appropriate fines were $58,500 for the
company and $1,500 for Mrs. Liang.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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