Judge asked to raise fines for Dallas Stars’ owner after damage to B.C. lake

KAMLOOPS, B.C. — The Crown has asked a judge to increase fines given to a man for damaging a salmon habitat during renovations to his vacation property in Kamloops, B.C.

Tom Gaglardi, who owns the NHL’s Dallas Stars, and his company Northland Properties, were each convicted on two counts of harmful alteration of a fish habitat. They were ordered to pay $140,000 in fines and donations last December.

During an appeal hearing in B.C. Supreme Court on Tuesday, a Crown lawyer asked Justice Susan Griffin to order Gaglardi and his company to instead pay a total of $300,000.

At the trial last year, court heard Gaglardi’s property on Kamloops Lake was undergoing extensive renovations in 2010, including the construction of a boat ramp.

Court heard that materials installed along the shoreline turned a healthy salmon habitat into something more akin to a moonscape, and that the area will take more than 40 years to restore.

Crown lawyer Digby Kier called the original sentence nothing more than a slap on the wrist.

“This was serious, serious, serious fish habitat that was utterly destroyed, that will take a long time to repair,” he said.

“This was a pittance to the respondents in this case. A pittance — nothing to it for these billionaire enterprises.”

Defence lawyer Rob Bruneau said the lower-court sentence was in line with other similar offences and that the fines were appropriate.

At one point, the judge interrupted Bruneau’s argument to ask him whether Gaglardi’s wealth should be a factor in her decision.

“Isn’t there a moral difference between a man who steals a loaf of bread when he can afford the bread factory as opposed to someone who’s starving?” she asked.

Bruneau said that it’s a different argument when the crime involves the environment.

Gaglardi, who also owns the Kamloops Blazers junior ice hockey team, was not at the appeal hearing but previously apologized for what happened.

The maximum sentence for harmful alteration of a fish habitat is $1 million, but Gaglardi’s renovations took place before sentences were increased. The most he can be fined is $300,000 per count. (Kamloops This Week)

Tim Petruk, Kamloops This Week, The Canadian Press