Area B Director Noba Anderson sued the Regional District in 2020. The B.C. Supreme Court ruled in favour of the Regional District back in June. File photo/Campbell River Mirror

Area B Director Noba Anderson sued the Regional District in 2020. The B.C. Supreme Court ruled in favour of the Regional District back in June. File photo/Campbell River Mirror

Justice ‘not satisfied’ Cortes Island director met burden of proof in SRD lawsuit

Reasons for June judgement provided to Strathcona Regional District board

The reasons for judgement in the Cortes Island SRD director’s lawsuit against the regional district were provided to the regional district board during its October meeting.

Director Noba Anderson sued the regional district in 2020 to quash a censure motion and to recoup legal costs from a different 2019 matter. In January 2019, a group of Cortes residents asked the Supreme Court of B.C. to remove Anderson from office, alleging she profited from her constituents, who received political favours in return. Anderson was also censured by the board at the time.

That suit was dropped, but Anderson requested that the SRD cover her legal fees. After the board decided against indemnifying the Cortes Island director, she sued the board. The B.C. Supreme Court ruled in favour of the regional district.

RELATED: B.C. Supreme Court sides with Strathcona Regional District in director lawsuit matter

The reasons for judgement were recently made available to the board.

“Ms. Anderson has the burden of proof in these proceedings. I am not satisfied that she has met that burden. More particularly, I am not satisfied that any of the impugned decisions are unreasonable, unfair or fall outside of the range of reasonable, acceptable outcomes,” said Justice Geoffrey R.J. Gaul in his conclusion.

Gaul said that Anderson’s counsel “has creatively tried to walk a tight-rope by, on the one hand, acknowledging that ‘it might appear superficially that the reasonableness standard should apply’ to the question of whether Ms. Anderson was entitled to be indemnified… but then arguing that the issue of counsellor indemnification lies so far outside ‘the common fare of municipal administration’ that the decisions in question ought to attract the less deferential standard of correctness” when it comes to the indemnification issue.

However, Gaul said he was “not prepared to take the analytical path that counsel for Ms. Anderson invites me to take.”

Gaul also said that Anderson “could have, and in my respectful opinion should have, requested permission from the Board to share the confidential information in question with her legal counsel, for the purposes of obtaining independent legal advice… However, that is not what occurred. Instead, Ms. Anderson took the confidential information over which the SRD, and only the SRD, held privilege and had not waived, and shared it with a third party, her counsel.”

Part of his reasoning for upholding the censure was a lack of remorse on Anderson’s part.

“I also note there is no suggestion that Ms. Anderson is contrite about her conduct or that she recognizes the harm her actions have potentially caused the SRD. Nor, more importantly, is there any indication that she will change her approach to dealing with confidential SRD information,” he said.

According to the SRD staff report, Anderson has chosen to file an appeal against the ruling.

There was no discussion on the matter at the SRD board table on Wednesday afternoon.

The Mirror has reached out to Anderson for comment.

RELATED: Cortes Island area director sues Strathcona Regional District

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