UBC still on the hook after losing appeal for $1.2 million fish fine

UBC has lost its appeal over a fine and conviction after the dumping of chemicals into a Fraser River tributary that killed 70 fish.

The university was fined $1.2 million after courts found UBC guilty under the Fisheries Act in late 2018.

UBC was charged along with contractor CIMCO Refrigeration after a technician released an “ammonia-containing solution” into a storm sewer in 2014.

There were four offences, the first three relating to the discharge of the ammonia solution. The fourth was based on the fact that the UBC delayed notifying officials after the incident occurred.

The mechanic, Michael Paulson from CIMCO, was repairing refrigeration equipment at Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre. The ammonia liquid made its way through storm drains to the fish-bearing Booming Ground Creek in Pacific Spirit Park. Environment Canada later found the dead fish in the creek over the following two days.

CIMCO pleaded guilty and was fined $800,000.

The Honourable Madam Justice Neena Sharma considered the appeal, as well as whether the fine levied against the university should be increased or decreased. Sharma left the fine unchanged.

“UBC has not persuaded me that the trial judge erred in principle in a way that impacted UBC’s sentence. Nor do I find the sentence imposed unfit,” Justice Sharma wrote in the decision.

UBC said it was reviewing the decision and declined to comment further.

This article was updated to include that UBC declined to comment.