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Mather sentencing adjourned until March 2013

Sentencing has been adjourned until March for a Gull Lake man found guilty in Red Deer provincial court on Friday of illegally removing vegetation from the shoreline on his property.

Dale Andrew Mather, who owns two adjoining properties along the waterfront, was charged under a section of the Water Act, which makes it an offence to knowingly or willingly remove vegetation from the bed and shore of a water body without proper approvals.

He was convicted under a section that carries a maximum penalty of $100,000 in fines and two years in prison.

Mather was charged in September 2009 by Alberta Environment investigators following up on information that an excavator had been working on the shoreline in front of his property.

Represented by lawyer Terrance Dawe of Calgary, Mather argued during his trial in June that he had asked the company hired to work on his property to ensure that all permits were in place, including seeking permission from the village foreman.

Judge Gordon Deck, in reading his decision on Friday, said Mather withheld key information from the operator, including his knowledge that the village did not have the authority to issue permits for excavation or other work on that area of the beach.

The Summer Villlage of Gull Lake had approval from Alberta Environment to groom beaches at a number of specified sites along the lakeshore, Deck said in reading testimony from the trial. However, that approval did not include the section in front of Mather’s house.

The village foreman’s responsibility was limited to carrying out the tasks specified in the approval and did not extend to the rest of the beach, said Deck.

He then turned to Mather’s allegation that he had been a victim of entrapment, arising from an ongoing dispute betweem himself and the summer village.

Deck said Mather’s allegation did not meet the legal definitions, pointing out that the Alberta Environment investigator had warned him a month earlier against damaging or removing shoreline vegetation without proper approval.

Special prosecutor Susan McRory told the court that she will need time to investigate Mather’s financial situation before she can develop a sentencing recommendation.

McRory said she and Dawe plan to negotiate a creative sentencing recommendation that they can then bring back to the court.

Mather is to return for sentencing on March 6.

He is not to be confused with Dale Peter Mather, former chief administrative officer for the Town of Innisfail.

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