Appeal court upholds RDBN's position on water bottling business

The B.C. Court of Appeal has sided with the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako on whether a water bottling company's operation near Fraser Lake qualifies as a home-based business.

The decision hinged in part on what constitutes a family.

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In 2012 and 2014, FRC Holdings Inc. acquired two adjoining properties on Gala Bay Road where a family had been running the operation as a permitted home-based business.

The site remained zoned waterfront residential and Jace McCord took over the operation while also moving onto the property. However, while he owns shares in Gala Bay Springs Water Company Inc. he does not own shares in FRC.

That became a sticking point, with the RDBN arguing McCord had moved onto the property primarily for commercial reasons and not because he wanted to live there.

In the decision, issued March 15, the Court of Appeal agreed and found that the definition of family put forward by FRC and Gala Bay "unduly extends the ordinary meaning of the work and suggested that all shareholders of a corporation are 'family members.'"

In February 2013, the RDBN board of directors turned down FRC's application to have the restrictions for home-based businesses lifted for the property.

After receiving complaints about the operation, the RDBN sent a letter in November 2014 expressing a concern that an accessory building on the adjoining property was being used for business purposes.

In response, FRC and Gala confirmed it would not be used for business but, in March, June and November 2016, RDBN inspections found the bottling materials were being stored on the adjoining property, in contravention of the home occupancy bylaw, and the operation's floor space was larger than the maximum allowed.

In February 2018, the RDBN secured an injunction from a B.C. Supreme Court Justice effectively ordering Gala Bay to stop operating and the matter was taken to the Court of Appeal.

Reached Friday, McCord said the operation has been shut down for three weeks but he will be working to bring it into compliance.

"We are looking at restructuring the company into a form that the regional district will approve of," he said.

Contrary to a proposal raised during a public hearing on the matter, McCord said moving the operation into Fraser Lake is out of the question.

"It doesn't make sense for us," he said. "It adds a major cost when the source [of the water] can't move. That's been our biggest struggle."

The full decision is posted with this story at princegeorgecitizen.com.

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