The largest berry operation in Pitt Meadows has received a judge’s OK to appeal an arbitrator’s award that could see several thousands dollars more paid for crop insurance.
Geri Partnership, owned by Francesco, Elisa, Roberto and Paolo Aquilini, can now appeal a $311,854 arbitration award, and seek to have it bumped up to $708,932, the B.C. Supreme Court decided in December.
That initial award was given following a dispute over a cranberry crop insurance claim made in the 2009. Geri Partnership had bought crop insurance from the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands and claimed losses worth about $1.1 million caused by the hot summer of 2009 and frost damage.
According to the judgment, only 5.1 million pounds of cranberries were harvested, resulting in a shortfall of 2.2 million pounds, working out to an insurable loss of $1.1 million.
But the ministry countered in the dispute that the none of the crop was insured because Geri Partnership didn’t give proper notice of the crop losses.
The ministry also maintained that in the original ruling by the arbitrator were simple findings of fact that didn’t deserve any review and that the arbitrator was giving the company the benefit of the doubt when he said that heat stress caused 10 per cent of the short-term losses.
Justice Bowden noted that the first award was based on a crop loss on neighbouring farms of about 30 per cent – which resulted in the $311,854 award.
But he added it’s not clear how the arbitrator arrived at that amount and that the arbitrator incorrectly calculated the amount payable.
The justice thus referred the calculations back to the arbitrator, suggesting a mathematical error was made. Bowden said that either the arbitrator should reconsider the award, as well as court costs, or that an entirely new arbitration hearing be held.
Francesco, Elisa, Paulo and Roberto Aquilini are also facing charges under the Water Act for unauthorized diversion of water in connection with the June 2009 installation of an irrigation pipe into the North Alouette River in Pitt Meadows .
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.
According to the court registry, they are expected to enter guilty pleas in Port Coquitlam Provincial Court on Jan. 17.
The Aquilini Investment Group owns the Vancouver Canucks.