November 01, 2014 - 7:28 AM
KAMLOOPS - It’s up to a Kamloops Provincial Court Judge to decide if the B.C. Conservation Foundation will receive the cash from a fine against one of the province’s wealthiest businessmen and his corporation.
In a sentence hearing earlier this month, Crown prosecutor Digby Kier asked Judge Stephen Harrison to consider directing Tom Gaglardi and Northland Properties Corporation’s fine towards the foundation after his conviction for harmfully altering a fish habitat. Kerr is calling for a maximum fine of $300,000.
Deborah Gibson, the foundation’s executive director, says if the agency is awarded the funds it is prepared to develop a project to enhance water sources and fish habitats.
“We certainly have the capacity,” she says. “We’ve got the staff and can certainly get a project. If the court needs to approve the project, we can do that.”
A fish habitat on Kamloops Lake was compromised when staff from the Northland Properties Corporation, through Gaglardi’s direction, made several renovations between 2010 and 2011 to his family’s property in Savona. Changes included removing several pieces of vegetation and adding rip-rap on site.
Following the incident, Gaglardi put $80,000 towards improving the habitat. But officials from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans have determined it will take nature decades to restore itself.
The B.C. Conservation Foundation develops projects to sustain and expand wildlife populations throughout B.C. After a project submission is approved, the foundation contracts staff to complete it. Gibson says with Gaglardi’s case, they could work with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in determining a project.
“It would be a worthwhile project that we would pursue. We get submissions on what they would like to do with (the award) and then we review them... it’s not just money going into a contractor’s project,” she says.
Given that the incident was committed in Savona, Gibson says the award could go towards improving water bodies near Kamloops or could go towards a fisheries project somewhere else in the project.
“We can contact the regions and just say ‘if you had this type of money, what would you want to put it into in fisheries?’” Gibson says. "You want to enhance the habitat and I think that’s the critical part.”
Gaglardi's lawyer, Rob Bruneau, is calling for a fine between $50,000 and $75,000. The largest court award the foundation has ever received was $50,000.
Judge Stephen Harrison will sentence Gaglardi and the corporation in December.
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