Province will accept court ruling on Shawnigan Lake contaminated soil

The B.C. Court of Appeal is expected to make its ruling soon

The province has confirmed it won’t intervene if the legal proceedings by a local government against the controversial contaminated soil treatment facility and landfill near Shawnigan Lake are successful.

The B.C. Court of Appeal is expected to make its ruling soon in the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s court case against South Island Aggregates and Cobble Hill Holdings, the owners of the landfill.

CVRD chairman Jon Lefebure said the district was informed by Environment Minister Mary Polak during a meeting at the Union of B.C. Municipalities conference in Victoria that the government will abide by whatever decision the court makes when the ruling finally comes down.

“The Minister said the province will respect the decision of the court and let the impacts of that decision unfold without any interference [from Victoria],” Lefebure said.

“That means that if we are successful, our jurisdiction and bylaws will be respected. Our zoning does not allow a landfill in that area. The facility is permitted to have a mine there, but no landfill,” he said.

A two-day court hearing on the appeal from the owners of the landfill ended on Aug. 18 in Vancouver without a summary judgement from the three judges who presided over it.

A judgment is expected at a later date, but no specific time was given.

The facility’s owners were appealing a ruling made by the B.C. Supreme Court in March.

That ruling concluded that a contaminated soil treatment facility and landfill are not permitted uses of the property, located on Stebbings Road, under the regional district’s zoning.

That court case was initiated by the CVRD which successfully argued it has jurisdictional authority over the site.

As well, a final ruling is still pending on another court case against the contaminated soil facility.

The Shawnigan Residents Association was the main instigator of a judicial review of the contaminated soil operation that was heard over 11 days by the B.C. Supreme Court in February as part of its own efforts to bring the operation to a halt.

The association is still waiting for the final decision from Justice Robert Sewell on the judicial review.