No guilty pleas yet in Aquilini case, court date rescheduled
The case involving the Aquilinis and the North Alouette River has been delayed again.
Court time had been scheduled Tuesday to enter guilty pleas on environmental charges in connection with the 2009 installation of an irrigation intake pipe for the berry operations in Pitt Meadows operated by Golden Eagle Group, part of the Aquilini Investment Group.
But prosecutor Jim Macaulay asked Port Coquitlam provincial court judge P. De Couto if the case could be adjourned until Nov. 1, at which time another date would be set.
“A scheduling issue arose within the company to make their appearance impossible,” Macaulay said, adding he had spoken to the defence lawyer.
“I’m satisfied the reason is good.”
Francesco, Elisa, Paulo and Roberto Aquilini were charged under the Water Act with unauthorized diversion of water in connection with the June 2009 installation of an irrigation pipe into the river.
They were also charged under the Fisheries Act for harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat in connection with work done to install the intake pipe.
In total, 11 charges were laid under the Fisheries Act, the Dike Maintenance Act and the Water Act.
Also named in the charges were six numbered companies, along with Richard Matis, CPI-Cranberry Plantation and Global Coin Inc.
A spokesman for the Aquilini Investment Group, which also owns the Vancouver Canucks, said previously that the company had been cooperating with the environment ministry.
Golden Eagle Group said in 2009 that it pumped water from the river briefly to save young cranberry plants during a dry spring. It had applications pending for that use.
The Aquilini Investment Group said last week it expects to receive approval for six water licence applications for flood harvesting and irrigation of cranberries. Those applications to withdraw water from the North Alouette were filed in 2007 and are the same applications that were in process when the charges were laid in 2011.
Meanwhile, a short-term water permit was issued June 24 to numbered companies 374917 B.C. Ltd. to 374921 B.C. Ltd., inclusive for watering, harvesting, frost protection and storage purposes for cranberry fields in north Pitt Meadows.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations confirmed there were concerns that water withdrawals went beyond the permit period, but didn’t want to comment further, because the application is under review.