Vernon and North Okanagan
Judge delays RDNO sentencing
Oct 16, 2013 / 4:00 pm
Vernon Judge Mayland McKimm held off on his sentencing of the Regional District of the North Okanagan Wednesday afternoon because of something he heard in the media.
The RDNO is awaiting to hear what financial penalty it will face after being found guilty of failing to provide potable water, allowing contamination of drinking water, introducing foreign matter into a well and operating a well in a manner to cause adverse impact in connection with the contamination of the Antwerp Springs water source in January 2010.
McKimm is frustrated and insulted by numerous media reports that suggest the RDNO does not take responsibility for its actions and continues to claim innocence in the case despite the guilty verdict.
The District of Coldstream has also maintained its innocence in the matter despite the fact it plead guilty to the charges.
In particular, McKimm says comments by RDNO Board Chair, Patrick Nichol in many media publications as well as the one he heard on the radio while driving home just two days after he gave the guilty verdict, left him unsettled.
McKimm says Nicol and the RDNO continue to claim they have done nothing wrong and that they have somehow been disserved by the justice system.
“The comments I heard that day showed a contemptuous attitude towards the findings of the court and more importantly it may well reflect the motivations of the RDNO. This, along with a number of comments made during the trial about the district's sincere concern with respect to providing the district clean water shows a complete indifference from the district,” said McKimm.
"If I made a comment regarding our lack of responsibility in the case (which I don't know if I did entirely), I don't think that would be too unreasonable given were in a position of defense," claimed Patrick Nicol.
McKimm implied that given this position and attitude allegedly taken by the district, he would have to hold off on his sentencing to ensure a fair and appropriate punishment is given.
In response to this Nicol tells Castanet that there was no contempt in his comments and that perhaps he has been taken out of context or misheard by the Judge.
“I don’t even know which interview he is referring to. I was very clear in that the RDNO is grateful to the justice system for their verdict and the reasons as to why they came to this verdict,” said Nicol.
“I mean no disrespect to the judge or their decision and have accepted the verdict,” added Nicol.
Shortly after the guilty verdict was released on September 25, 2013 the district released a statement accepting the decision but never accepting fault.
The RDNO expressed disappointment in the results but "accepts the decision and is studying if for operational implications."
"The judge acknowledged the conscientious and excellent handling of the situation by the Regional District of North Okanagan staff, but felt more should have been done prior to the incident to reduce the risk of contamination," the district stated in the release.
"The decision suggests a utility must shift more from the management of risks to the reduction and elimination of risks within its system. This may be a very financially onerous task."
The district goes on to say the decision reinforces that the RDNO must diligently proceed to complete and implement the Master Water Plan, something it says it is committed to.
Judge McKimm is requiring that counsel provide him a full transcript of the interview with Nichol that he heard on the radio that day so he can come to his own conclusions.
Perhaps suggesting that without hearing the entire interview the quote he heard shows, “A rather sinister indifference to the event.”
Both parties will be back before Judge McKimm next Wednesday morning in Vernon at which time (given he has read the full interview transcript) he will hand down the sentence against the RDNO.
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