The owner of a North Surrey grain loading facility was told not to fill in a ditch, the city says. Nonetheless, Amrik Sangha dumped about 500 truck loads of dirt into a critical drainage ditch in Bridgeview.
Sangha appeared before city council Monday accompanied by an engineer and a lawyer in a rare quasi-judicial meeting of council where legal matters are hashed out.
Sangha, owner of Gurcharan Enterprises Ltd., at 11678 130 St. in Bridgeview unlawfully filled a critical drainage ditch in the wetland area.
“The owner had made requests to city staff in the past, most recently in 2009, to be allowed to fill the canal and had been denied,” a staff report to council states.
However, Sangha contends the city knew well of the fill, even saying he was doing a good job.
Mayor Dianne Watts asked Sangha if he had emails or correspondence to support that claim.
He said he does and is prepared to produce them.
Sangha said he was compelled to do something about the ditch because of a rat problem. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency, he said, applauded his effort.
Arguments through the afternoon Monday included claims by Sangha’s engineer that the filled ditch, which now includes a pipe to allow for water flow, is more than adequate for drainage in the area.
His lawyer told council the city is in default of its responsibility to Sangha to ensure the ditch was in good repair. He also pointed to the 1923 agreement for the statutory right of way, which allows for covering for the purposes of train tracks if necessary.
The city’s lawyer countered that the issue has less to do with the right of way than council’s authority under the Community Charter to insist remedial measures if someone damages a ditch.
Surrey’s engineers said the compromised ditch could fail if it was hit with a heavy rainfall.
Given only an hour, council was unable to complete discussions on the issue, and deferred it until April 18.
Watts told Sangha to bring with him any correspondence that proves his claim that he had approval from city staff.
Sangha said after the meeting it cost him $1 million to fill the ditch, and expects it to cost another $500,000 to remediate it the way the city wants.