City of Burnaby alleges pulp and paper company contaminated public land over three decades

The City of Burnaby is suing Montreal-based pulp and paper giant Domtar for damages and remediation costs to clean up city land it alleges Domtar contaminated over several decades.

From the 1960s to 1991, Domtar owned a parcel of land on Wiggins Street in Burnaby where it manufactured asphalt and roof shingles. According to a lawsuit recently filed in B.C. Supreme Court, during this time the company’s agents and representatives began dumping crushed asphalt, wood debris, roofing grit and drums containing waste onto the adjacent city property. The lawsuit claims that the city property has become a contaminated site under the provincial Environmental Management Act.

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“The City has and will continue to suffer loss and damage as a result of Domtar’s actions,” states the notice of civil claim. “The presence of waste and contamination on the City Property also has interfered with the City’s use and enjoyment of the property.”

The suit also alleges that the city will continue to suffer loss and damages as a result of Domtar’s actions.

The City of Burnaby’s claim focuses on negligence as well as nuisance and trespass. According to the notice of civil claim, Domtar owed a duty of care to the city as a neighbouring property. The suit claims that Domtar should have exercised all reasonable care and diligence to ensure that waste and contaminants didn’t manage to migrate to city property.

The damages the city is seeking include the cost of site investigations and remediation as well as all other associated costs for the city property, including legal work, diminution of the value of the property and damages for the unreasonable and substantial interference with the city’s use of the property.

The allegations have not been tested or proven in court, and the defendants had not responded to the lawsuits by press time.

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