CVRD steps up legal action in case of contaminated soil

Sarah Simpson / Cowichan Valley Citizen
October 3, 2013 03:06 PM

CVRD board chair Rob Hutchins and his fellow directors are not letting the issue of contaminated soil dumping in the Cowichan Valley go without a fight.

The Cowichan Valley Regional District has officially asked that South Island Aggregates halt all work on its soil remediation facility and landfill until such time as its appeal has been heard.

The CVRD filed their application to the Environmental Appeal Board for a “stay” shortly after it appealed to the province for the SIA permit to be rescinded because of threats to drinking water, zoning bylaw infractions and land governance issues.

Fighting on many fronts, the CVRD’s latest battleground has been over zoning.
In a letter dated March 9, 2011, the CVRD told SIA their operation was not in compliance with the property’s zoning.

“Regardless of your dealings with the Ministry of Environment, the CVRD does not recognize this use as lawful and does not conform to the applicable permitted land use,” wrote then board chair Gerry Giles.

The regional district now wants the BC Supreme Court to confirm the local government’s authority to enforce zoning restrictions on the SIA property that prohibit the use proposed.

“Because contaminated soil is regulated by the province, many believe that the province’s regulations supersede those of the regional district when it comes to regulating contaminated soil activities,” said a CVRD press release issued Oct. 3. “The CVRD has been told by the province that local land use regulations are not considered in the province's decisions to locate contaminated soil remediation facilities as it is up to the private property owner to ensure they are in compliance.”

That opens the door to the CVRD being able to shut SIA’s operation down, the CVRD argues.

“The CVRD is now seeking a ruling by the court to ensure that local zoning bylaws are respected,” said board chair Rob Hutchins. “We had hoped that the SIA permit would have been rejected on compelling environmental grounds, however since the Ministry of Environment has approved the permit, we feel we have no option but to pursue this matter on legal grounds. We can leave no stone unturned in our efforts to protect the drinking water of thousands of people in Shawnigan Lake.”  

Hutchins said the CVRD would continue to collaborate with the Shawnigan Residents’ Association, which has also launched an appeal of the SIA permit.

“Like the Residents’ Association, we want to make sure that efforts are not duplicated and that together we put the very best possible case and arguments forward,” said Hutchins.

© Cowichan Valley Citizen

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