October 10, 2014 - 2:01 PM
KAMLOOPS - The lawyer for one of the wealthiest men in B.C. says his client's financial status should not justify the maximum fine for the environmental damage he caused after renovating his family summer home and property in Savona.
Tom Gaglardi was not present in Kamloops Provincial Court Friday morning to hear Crown prosecutor Digby Kier say he should face a harsh financial penalty for the fish habitat he compromised. Gaglardi and his company Northland Properties Corporation were convicted of harmfully altering a fish habitat for what Kier called a “showpiece on the lake.”
Tom’s father, Robert was originally charged, but acquitted.
The case before the court followed after a Department of Fisheries and Oceans investigation of the location's renovations. Changes made to the area led to removal of several pieces of vegetation relied heavily upon fish traversing the Kamloops Lake en route to the Fraser River.
“The fish had to be compromised for this (project) to be done, and they were. They still are,” Kier said.
In his submissions for sentencing, Kier told the court he sees a little remorse from Gaglardi based on his lack of consideration for the habitat before the project began. He asked Judge Stephen Harrison to consider handing Gaglardi a $300,000 fine. At the time of the offense, $300,000 was the maximum fine but Kerr told the court in the last two years the fine's maximum has raised to a million dollars.
“I’m at a loss to find a more culpable offender in my experience,” Kier said.
Kier said Gaglardi tried to place blame on Jim Parks, the project supervisor and failed to seek out a building permit before the project began.
“They took immediate steps to try and blame someone else.... They wanted to keep a low profile and if they got caught, they would seek forgiveness,” Kier said.
In his defence, lawyer Rob Bruneau said Harrison should consider Gaglardi’s $80,000 property rehabilitation investment, which he made before the matter went to trial.
Bruneau is calling for a fine between $50,000 and $75,000. He said Kier’s suggested fine was targeting his client’s wealth.
“Just because we’re dealing with an extremely wealthy family, we’re not going to raise the fine,” Bruneau said. He added the significant press coverage of the case resulting in the embarrassment of the Gaglardi family should be considered in sentencing.
"In the court of public opinion, he will suffer," Bruneau said.
Kier is asking the majority of the $300,000 be contributed to the B.C. Conservation Foundation, an association that works with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to support conservation and protection of animal habitats.
Ultimately Harrison will determine what percentage of the fine will come from Gaglardi and the corporation.
Gaglardi will return to court Oct. 23 to fix a date for sentencing.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014