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Feds shell out $11 million over Vernon property possibly hiding explosives

Military personnel scanning for bombs at Cosens Bay, 1973.
Image Credit: Vernon Museum and Archives
January 08, 2016 - 6:30 PM

VERNON - The federal government paid out an $11-million settlement to a B.C. developer who sued after discovering a property purchased in Vernon could be littered with an unknown quantity of unexploded bombs, mortar shells and grenades.

Vancouver-based K&L Land Partnership sued the government in 2013 over the 1,349 acre property overlooking Kalamalka Lake. Its vision was to build a residential development there, but those plans were put on hold for fear of sending excavators in and setting off an explosion. The area was heavily used for military training by the Department of National Defence in the Second World War.

In its notice of claim, K&L said the mess left behind from the military training is the government’s responsibility to clean up. It noted the explosives are often buried, leaving people and prospective buyers unaware of their presence and the risk they pose to life, limb or property.

In its defence statement, the government argued the possible presence of explosives in the area is "notorious, a matter of public knowledge in the community of Vernon and its environs, and have been and continue to be widely reported in local and national newspapers." It said K&L knew or "ought to have known with the exercise of reasonable due diligence” they were there when it bought the land.

According to financial statements released by the federal government, it paid K&L an $11-million settlement as compensation for environmental damages.

No one was available for comment from the Department of National Defence before publication of this article, and a call to the developer has yet to be returned.

Explosives leftover from military training have killed eight people in the Vernon area since 1948, according to Defence Construction Canada.

The Okanagan Indian Band has been working to rid its land of explosives, and a military mortar was discovered by a diver in Kalamalka Lake in 2013.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infonews.ca or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016
InfoTel News Ltd

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