The Fernie Memorial Arena remains locked down while the investigation continues. Phil McLachlan/The Free Press

Fernie, RCMP go to court over city log books in fatal ammonia leak probe

Log books center stage in clashing of investigations between the city and RCMP

The investigation into the fatal ammonia leak that left three men dead has taken an odd turn in a court dispute between the RCMP and the City of Fernie over a set of city-owned log books.

According to online court documents, the city requested that a provincial court judge allow city officials to “inspect and make copies” of a set of internal log books that were seized by the RCMP.

The log books are one piece of evidence in the Mounties’ investigation into October’s ammonia leak at a city-operated arena that left the community in mourning.

The court heard on Dec. 7 that during the recovery of the bodies, the RCMP came into possession of two log books that were kept inside the arena. The books contain detailed information about the operation and maintenance of the refrigeration system that presumably failed and caused the fatalities, documents show.

READ MORE: Investigators hone in on timeline of deadly ammonia leak in Fernie

READ MORE: Replacement outdoor rink opens in time for holidays

Lawyer Glen Purdy, representing the city, argued that the manner in which the RCMP obtained the log books was improper and illegal, because they were obtained without a search warrant and located by a firefighter.

Without the log books, Purdy said the city would not be able to complete their investigation as required by the Workers Compensation Act.

But in court, the RCMP pointed out that according to the act, the city is responsible for carrying out an investigation “as far as possible,” and that it would not be penalized if there are circumstances beyond its control that would prevent them from completing the review.

RCMP further stated that in this matter, the city is not an “investigative agency” such as a police force, and “merely an employer.”

In her decision on Jan. 17, Honourable judge Lynal Doerksen sided with the RCMP that disclosing the seized log books could compromise the integrity of the criminal investigation.

“Given the nature of the incident: multiple fatalities with a possible criminal cause, it is obvious that it would not be in the public interest to jeopardize the RCMP investigation to assist the city with a statutory obligation,” Doerksen said.

Mounties’ criminal investigation continues

Although officials have not provided any updates on the investigation so far this year, RCMP have said they aren’t ruling out criminal charges, such as criminal negligence causing death.

However, “it must be emphasized that at this stage there is only the mere possibly of charges and no discussion or indication of the probability or likelihood of charges,” the RCMP said.

According to court documents, city officials will receive the log books back once the RCMP investigation has concluded either because there were no charges or because the RCMP and the Crown Counsel would have to make full disclosure to the municipality if any charges are announced.

City officials declined to comment on the decision.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Park ambassador pilot going well at Mount Doug

Dog poop bags, litter and cigarette butts among ongoing park issues

Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson set to hit Rock the Shores stage

Other acts include Bahamas, Allen Stone and Bedouin Soundclash

Croatia loses in World Cup final, Victoria fans still jubilant

“We’re just a small little country, we only have 4.5 million people, and look how far we’ve come.”

Victoria Police issue a public warning after a man was injured by a hidden syringe

Used syringes in discrete locations have caused injuries over the past year in Greater Victoria

VIDEO: Unique canvas for local artist

Haren Vakil brings joy and smiles to homeowners and passersby

France doubles up Croatia 4-2 to win World Cup

Played in Moscow Russia, latest Fifa World Cup marks the highest scoring final since 1966

How to sponsor a refugee, global refugee situation only worsening

‘U.S. is no longer a safe place for refugees,’ says local MP

B.C. VIEWS: Making private health care illegal again

Adrian Dix battles to maintain Cuba-style medical monopoly

Almost every part of Canada’s largest national park deteriorating: federal study

Drawing on decades of research — the report lists 50 pages of citations

Activists protest outside Kinder Morgan terminal in kayaks, canoes

Tsleil-Waututh elder Ta’ah Amy George led the water ceremony from a traditional Coast Salish canoe

Canadian soccer fans brace for World Cup final between France, Croatia

First ever final for the Croatians, while it’s France’s third, going into match as betting favourite

B.C. Lions claw their way back to score 20-17 victory over Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The Bombers, who beat the Lions 41-19 last week in Edmonton, fell to 2-3 with the loss

High winds, lack of rain suggest no breaks in sight for B.C. wildfire season

There were 11 new wildfires across the province over 24 hours, BC Wildfire Service officials say

MLA REPORT: Speculation tax can carry unforeseen consequences

By Andrew Weaver BC Green Party Leader There has been a lot… Continue reading

Most Read