Residents and Township drop Willoughby development lawsuit

A group of Willoughby residents who launched a court challenge over Athenry Development’s project have agreed with the Township to drop the case.

Lawyer Jonathan Baker represented Yorkson residents (rear, l-r) Hank Der, Mike Gardner and Bob and Linda Duncan. They have now dropped their lawsuit against Athenry Development.

A group of Willoughby residents who launched a court challenge over Athenry Development’s project for condos and a cultural centre in Willoughby have agreed with the Township to drop the case.

The Township and Hank and Lisa Der, Robert and Linda Duncan, Michael Gardner and YongJoong Kim consented to the dismissal on Oct. 21.

The Supreme Court of B.C. ordered the residents and the Township to pay their own costs.

That means Township taxpayers are on the hook for a case that went nowhere.

Had the Township had the legal option to recover its costs, expenses could have run in the “tens of thousands of dollars,” said administrator Mark Bakken.

The costs will be less than $10,000, he estimated.

“We have no specific numbers yet, but traditionally to get to this stage would likely be in the range of $5,000 to $7,500,” Bakken said.

The residents sought legal recourse after council approved bylaws pertaining to Athenry’s plan on Jan. 31. They sought an order quashing rezoning bylaws and a development permit for four acres on the northeast corner of 83 Avenue and 208 Street.

Some land clearing has begun, and the developer is waiting for building permits to be issued.

Jonathan Baker, an acknowledged expert in municipal law, told council at the January meeting that the proposal needed to go back to the drawing board.

The residents claimed that the residential buildings will be too tall and too close to their homes, thus blocking out the sun. They said that the proposed landscaping would provide an insufficient barrier from those buildings.

The components of the development are general housing, homes for seniors, retail and commercial. Athenry also plans a $500,000 facelift and relocation of Willoughby Community Hall.

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