The Ladysmith Maritime Society is seeking an injunction that would allow the non-profit organization to continue running the community marina, which is scheduled to be turned over to the Stz’uminus First Nation in the new year.
A Dec. 8 court date on the injunction is set in Vancouver.
The society wants to maintain the status quo until there is a separate court decision on the handling of its lease on a water lot used for the marina.
The Town of Ladysmith has asked the society to move out at the end of December to permit the Stz’uminus First Nation to take over the water lot lease and run the marina, under a reconciliation agreement signed with the province last year.
The Stz’uminus nation has identified the water lot, which is held by the province, as within its traditional territory.
The notice of civil case filed by the society lists the town, the Ladysmith Harbour Economic Development Corporation, which is owned by the town, and the province, which owns the water lots, as defendants. Documents were filed in court on Tuesday.
The society has spent nearly 40 years operating the community marina at Ladysmith, it said.
In 1999, the province and town signed a 30-year marina lease agreement ending in 2029 that recognized the society’s longtime occupation of the community marina site.
The society maintains that the province and town worked together to breach the lease, to the detriment of the society “thereby destroying the foundation of what LMS has built for the community and the justification of LMS’ very existence.”
Defendants decided to end the society’s contract years ahead of its expiry date in favour of conferring the underlying leasehold over the foreshore, seabed and marina to the First Nation, the society said.
The community marina is the product of tens of thousands of volunteer hours, donations from community members and visitors, grants from provincial and federal governments, and a commitment by the Ladysmith Maritime Society to establish a thriving space for the benefit of the public, the society said.
Annual and seasonal moorage is provided to more than 170 local residents and the facility has 950 moorage slips for visitors. About a dozen liveaboard vessels and a float home are based at marina, which is a focal point for summer activities.
The society is not against reconciliation efforts with the First Nation and has tried to reach a resolution with the nation, the filing says.
In November, the town said it passed a special resolution authorizing it to abandon its lease, something that the society does not accept.
The society says its improvements to the site include building and maintaining almost 4,500 feet of dock, establishing a breakwater, converting several boathouses for marina use, including a workshop, and storing heritage vessels.
It says it also built other amenities, such as a 3,000-square-foot welcoming centre. The buildings and other structures are chattels that are not intended to be part of the water lot, the society said.
The Town of Ladysmith said it had no comment on the case.
The provincial minister of Land, Water and Resource Stewardship did not immediately respond to a request for comment.