Landowners facing environmental lawsuits over a mob-linked mountain of polluted dirt in Flamborough are seeking a constitutional lawsuit to settle all alleged violations out of court.
The province has repeatedly ordered clean-ups at Waterdown Garden Supplies – so far without success – after 24,000 truckloads of soil were dumped on the Highway 5 site between 2018 and 2019. Neighbors at the Troy site fear the 10-meter-high piles will pollute surrounding groundwater.
Earlier this year, the Department for Environment, Conservation and Parks made fresh environmental allegations against contractors for both landowner Waterdown Garden Supplies and suspected dump trucker Havana Group Supplies.
It is the province’s third indictment since 2020 against the company’s landowner and those associated with the property, including Gary McHale and Wim Van Ravenswaay. A trial for an indictment began in the spring.
But all of those court cases are temporarily in limbo because of a rare constitutional complaint requesting that all charges of charter violations and “abuse of process” be dismissed.
In a short video hearing last Friday, Justice Andrew Goodman said he would hear arguments in October on whether the unusual request should be allowed in the Supreme Court.
Frustrated neighbor Jim Whelan called the latest legal maneuver “just another delaying tactic” that’s keeping residents waiting for a cleanup that “looks like it’s never coming.”
“They don’t care about the impact on us… They know they can drag these[litigations]on for years,” said Whelan, who also cited several lawsuits aimed at “passing the buck” on the dirt mountains.
Last year, leaders at Waterdown Garden Supplies launched an explosive $75 million lawsuit alleging that two City of Hamilton employees and a gangster were involved in a landfill scheme.
They also separately sued the directors of suspected dumper Havana, a construction company that had previously detected a Spectator probe, was run by convicted con artist Steve Sardinha and counted murdered mob boss Pat Musitano as a silent partner.
A third-party investigation by the city found “no evidence” that city officials were involved in a landfill program — but officials have never explained why the city allowed illegal dumping on Highway 5 for so long, despite loud complaints from residents.
The Spectator was unable to reach a lawyer for Havana Group Supplies Monday.
In an interview, McHale said he is trying to drop all related charges because the ministry “violated the fundamentals of justice in Canada.” For example, he argued the province had repeatedly attempted to prosecute Waterdown Garden Supplies for the same alleged offenses and was not providing sufficient time to appeal orders.
In previous interviews, McHale has told The Spectator that in late 2018 a mortgage holder received a court order to evict his business from the Waterdown Garden site, leaving him unable to clean up the site or even legally access it. He has estimated the cleaning costs could be in the tens of millions.
The motion document specifically calls for the dismissal of the Charter violation charges — or, alternatively, for the relevant environmental legislation to be declared unconstitutional. The document further accuses the ministry of behaving like “an old Western force” that “carries out administrative orders with incompetence and brazen disregard for the law.”
The ministry sent an email saying it was “inappropriate” to comment on an application in court.