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Lawsuit thrown out

Clearwater County has convinced the courts to throw out a $3.2-million lawsuit launched against it nearly 10 years ago.

“It’s excellent news for the county,” said public works manager Darrell Constantinoff.

“Significant dollars have been spent defending ourselves on this claim, and that doesn’t include administrative time.”

The county spent $80,000 to $100,000, estimated Constantinoff. It must now apply to the courts to recover the legal costs.

The lawsuit stemmed from the county’s 1997 reconstruction of a portion of Secondary Hwy 752 near a forestry trunk road.

Alberta Cement Corp. had a subsurface mineral lease for limestone in the region, including the area underneath the road.

“When the highway was rebuilt, a lot of sharp curves were taken out and some rocks outcrops were blasted out,” said Constantinoff.

The limestone forming the rock was used as part of the reconstructed highway or placed along the roadsides.

In 1998, Alberta Cement Corp. sued the county for removing limestone from the company’s mineral lease.

The company’s claim was that someone profited from removing the limestone.

Last year, the county asked the courts to dismiss the case. The request was turned down.

The county then went to the Alberta Court of Appeal and won its bid.

County lawyers argued that the Law of Property Act allows the provincial government and municipalities to remove material for road construction, without right of compensation, on Crown land.

Alberta Cement Corp. can still appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Company owner Aage Tottrup could not be reached for comment.

His $572-million lawsuit against the Alberta government and local environmentalist Martha Kostuch is still in the courts.

In 1996, Tottrup accused the government of wrongly holding up his proposal to build a cement plant in the Rocky Mountain House area.

He accused Kostuch of spreading “fictitious” comments about the project.

The plant was never built and limestone was not extracted by Alberta Cement.

Contact Andrea Miller at amiller@reddeeradvocate.com

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