Boaters hope third-party judgement overturns city decision

South Surrey's Karna and Gord Balsillie had their moorage contract cancelled after two decades at Ward's Marina

A South Surrey couple who are being taken to court by the City of Surrey say they’re confident that they have filed a formal response that should be legally acceptable.

Gordon and Karna Balsillie, are to appear in New Westminster Supreme Court on March 29, in response to Surrey’s injunction to remove their 39-foot catamaran Elysium from Ward’s Marina.

The couple, who had moored boats at Ward’s Marina for 22 years before the city canceled their moorage contract in 2014, claim they were not given a chance by the city to address alleged breaches of their mooring contract.

At an initial appearance March 11, the case was adjourned for two weeks so that they could file correct documentation for their response.  Justice John Harvey told them that, by not presenting their response properly “right now (the city’s petition) is, effectively, unopposed.”

Karna Balsillie told PAN at that time that they had received legal advice that they would be able to present their side of the story.

On Thursday she said a new lawyer has prepared a formal response she feels should pass muster for the court, and filed it by the March 22 advance deadline set by the court.

While the city’s case hinges on the fact that the couple’s boat is still at the marina on the Nicomekl River without a moorage contract, their response argues that Surrey terminated the previous contract without showing just cause.

And that, Balsillie alleges, is in violation of Surrey’s own Human Rights policy, which sets out due process for the resolution of disagreements and bylaw infractions.

“They are obligated to give us a reason – they can’t just say no after renewing it for 22 years,” she said, adding that the case has soured them on the marina and tarnished an unblemished record of moorage at the facility.

“They say we have to move the boat. It’s inconvenient, it’s costly, whatever. That is not the point,” she added. “Even if we were guilty of some infraction, they didn’t go about it the right way. We’ve always said we’d be happy to accept a third-party judgement.

“We’ll have to see what happens.”