Shawnigan Lake soil dump back in court with appeal

The controversial contaminated soil dump at Shawnigan Lake will be before the courts again in Vancouver today.

The controversial contaminated soil dump at Shawnigan Lake will be before the courts again in Vancouver today.

The B.C. Court of Appeal will hear the appeal from South Island Aggregates and Cobble Hill Holdings, the owners of the landfill, who are 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.

That court case was initiated by the Cowichan Valley Regional District which argued it has jurisdictional authority over the site.

The supreme court ordered at the time that no further soil could be imported to the site until the company’s appeal of that decision is heard this week.

But that ruling was set aside in April by the B.C. Court of Appeal’s Justice Pamela Kirpatrick, who decided to allow the importation of soil to continue until the appeal is heard.

Jon Lefebure, chairman of the CVRD, said he’s “optimistic” the appeals court will agree with the decision made by the supreme court in March.

“Nothing has changed since the supreme court ruled in our favour, so the logic behind our position is still there,” he said.

“We’ll have our lawyer and our CAO Brian Carruthers at the hearing and we’re hopeful that it will result in a positive decision for us.”

Calvin Cook, president of the Shawnigan Residents Association, which has opposed the soil dump since it was first announced four years ago, said he’s hoping that a large contingent of the dump’s opponents will attend the court hearing, which is expected to take two days.

But he said he doesn’t think the court’s ruling will be the end of the soil dump, or the legal saga around it, no matter what the three judges decide.

Cook said he expects the ruling will again be appealed.

“It’s a question as to who is responsible for making land-use decisions for the area, the municipality or the province, and I expect this case could ultimately end up in the Supreme Court of Canada,” he said.

“I said that was a possibility when we first started this campaign four years ago, but we have to continue this fight and we must win.”