Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau says she’ll continue to hold the government to account over issues around the contaminated soil dump in Shawnigan Lake. (File photo)

Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau says she’ll continue to hold the government to account over issues around the contaminated soil dump in Shawnigan Lake. (File photo)

Contaminated soil dump owner gets extension on closure deadline

Cobble Hill Holdings also owes $38,000 in unpaid taxes

Unpaid taxes by Cobble Hill Holdings and an extended deadline for the final closure of the company’s contaminated soil dump near Shawnigan Lake are frustrating to Sonia Furstenau.

Furstenau, the MLA for the Cowichan Valley who was one of the leaders of the successful fight to shut down the controversial facility, said she’s disappointed that CHH was given a 10-month extension to close the site, which was supposed to be closed on Oct. 31, and the fact that the property faces a pending forfeiture to the government if it doesn’t pay $38,000 in unpaid taxes by the end of November.

CHH has been warned by the Ministry of Finance that the property could be forfeited to the government if the company doesn’t pay the tax bill by Dec. 1

That has raised fears that taxpayers’ could be ultimately responsible for covering the costs of cleaning up the site.

An email from CHH said the company has no comment on the issue at this time as it is before the courts.

Furstenau said the Ministry of Environment should have made the decision to have all the contaminated soil removed when the site was closed in 2017.

RELATED STORY: SHAWNIGAN LAKE SKEPTICAL AS CONTAMINATED SOIL STAYS

“This is an unacceptable situation,” Furstenau said.

“The Shawnigan Residents Association and the community identified these possible outcomes as early as 2012. Patterns have developed over the history of this entire affair, including missed deadlines, non-compliance to permits and not meeting conditions set out by successive ministers.”

It’s been two years since the controversial landfill shut down operations when its operating permit was pulled from its owners, CHH and South Island Aggregates, by the province after years of lawsuits and demonstrations.

RELATED STORY: SOIL COMPANIES TO CLOSE SHAWNIGAN CONTAMINATED SOIL QUARRY PERMANENTLY

Earlier this month, Environment Minister George Heyman agreed to CHH’s request to push back the Oct. 31 deadline to have the site prepared for final closure until Aug. 31, 2020.

The extension is intended give the company time to bring in extra fill soil, which is not contaminated, to cap the site, a move opposed by residents who fear the contaminated soil underneath will leach into their water supply and want it all removed as soon as possible.

Cobble Hill Holdings said in its application for the deadline extension that it could not do the necessary work during the winter months.

As for the unpaid taxes and what would happen if the site was forfeited to the province, a statement from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change said the owners would still legally be required to comply with the Spill Prevention Order that was issued for the site, regardless of whether they own the property, “now or in the future”.

The statement said that if the owners forfeit the property, the ministry would still require them to close the site as per the closure plan.

RELATED STORY: SHAWNIGAN LAKE RESIDENTS TAKE TO THE STREETS OVER SOIL

“The province does not become a person responsible for remediation of a site through involuntarily acquisition,” the statement said.

“Failure to comply with any part of the order would be subject to the ministry’s compliance and enforcement policy and procedure, including administrative penalties. Ministry staff will conduct regular onsite and desktop inspections in the coming months to monitor the completion of required activities and submission of required documentation.”

Furstenau said she’ll continue to call Heyman and the government to account on all issues related to the soil dump, including raising questions in this week’s question period in the legislature.

“As I have said before, the contaminated soil should be removed before any other work is done there,” she said.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Principal Marie-Claude Carrier has overseen the opening of the Cowichan Valley’s first francophone school. (Citizen file)
Registration now open for Duncan Francophone school

École francophone de Duncan opened last fall with six students

Reggie went missing in Duncan’s McAdam Park on Jan. 3 and owner Brittny Bukva is hoping for his safe return. (Submitted)
Have you seen Reggie? Dog went missing in Duncan’s McAdam Park

Have you seen Reggie? Dog went missing in Duncan’s McAdam Park

Workers prepare to take down 28 large trees on private property on Mill Bay Road this week after they were intentionally poisoned almost two years ago. (Submitted photo)
Still no charges over poisoning of trees in Mill Bay

It’s been almost two years since incident involving 28 large trees

Cory Harrington has been found. (Submitted photo)
Missing Lake Cowichan man located

Cory Harrington was last seen on Dec. 11

Alistair MacGregor will have Pharmacare on his mind for a Thursday, Jan. 21 virtual town hall. (Photo by Lexi Bainas/Cowichan Valley Citizen)
Cowichan MP hosting town hall on universal pharmacare

“Pharmacare for All: A Prescription for Your Wallet”

Syringe is prepared with one of B.C.’s first vials of Pfizer vaccine to prevent COVID-19, Victoria, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 caseload stays steady with 465 more Tuesday

No new outbreaks in health care facilities, 12 more deaths

Stand up paddleboarder Christie Jamieson is humbled to her knees as a pod of transient orcas put on a dramatic show on Jan. 19 in the Ucluelet Harbour. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Ucluelet paddle boarder surrounded by pod of orcas

“My whole body is still shaking. I don’t even know what to do with this energy.”

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Inmates at Metchosin’s William Head Institution are being given COVID-19 vaccines as part of the first phase. Around 600 inmates will be vaccinated in the coming days. (Black Press Media file photo)
William Head prison inmates in receive first doses of COVID vaccine

Priority set for older inmates and those with underlying medical conditions

New Westminster TV production designer, Rick Whitfield, has designed an office in a box for British Columbians in need of a private workspace. (BC Box Office photo)
PHOTOS: B.C. man designs ‘box office’ solution for those working from home

‘A professionally designed workspace on your property, away from the distractions of home’

Chilliwack ER doctor Marc Greidanus is featured in a video, published Jan. 18, 2021, where he demonstrates and describes effectiveness of various styles of masks. (Youtube)
VIDEO: Emergency room doctor runs through pros and cons of various masks

‘We’ve been asked to wear a mask and it’s not that hard,’ Greidanus says.

(Pixabay photo)
VIDEO: Tip to Metro Vancouver transit police helps woman 4,000 km away in Ohio

Sgt. Clint Hampton says transit police were alerted to a YouTube video of the woman in mental distress

A woman types on her laptop in Miami in a Monday, Dec. 12, 2016, photo illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Wilfredo Lee
British Columbia government lax on cybersecurity practices, auditor reports

The audit did not highlight a specific threat, but it found breaches in cybersecurity are increasing globally

A water taxi at Victoria’s Fisherman’s Wharf. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man arrested after stolen water taxi raced up Victoria’s Gorge Waterway

Man is facing recommended charges of theft over $5,000 after leading police on marine chase

Most Read