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Fears of new lawsuits could prompt appeal in North Preston settlement

Legal fears could sway councillors on the issue of an appeal on anelderly North Preston man getting $80,000 for living next to a sewagetreatment plant for 20 years.

Legal fears could sway councillors on the issue an appeal of an elderly North Preston man getting $80,000 for living next to a sewage treatment plant for 20 years.

The Nova Scotia Supreme Court recently ruled Allison Willis, 70, could not enjoy his farm and home because of the stench from a nearby sewage plant.

Area councillor and deputy mayor David Hendsbee said yesterday he has many questions about the ruling, such as whether other neighbours can file similar suits.

But more daunting is whether the ruling opens the floodgates to lawsuits over the stench from the broken downtown Halifax sewage treatment plant.

“If you extrapolate it further, if it’s a nuisance for one it could be a nuisance for other facilities. And that brings in the issue of the downtown,” Hendsbee said. “My biggest concern is multitude (of claims).”

In recent weeks waterfront businesses have become more vocal with complaints the smell from the harbour is hurting their bottom lines.

The decision to appeal the ruling will ultimately be made by council at an in-camera session after hearing legal advice from staff.

The case could also be impacted by a recent ruling from the other end of the country. In May, a British Columbia court ruled the transit authority and companies involved in a new rail line must give a local businesswoman $600,000.

Susan Heyes, who runs a Vancouver maternity wear shop, was awarded the money after claiming construction on the Canada Line kept customers from entering her store. The nuisance violation cited is similar to the Nova Scotia case. The B.C. ruling has been appealed.
Halifax Regional Council’s decision to appeal could be made as early as its next meeting on Sept. 8.

Head of HRM legal services Mary-Ellen Donovan said yesterday she could not comment on the implications of the court ruling.

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