Cowichan Valley Regional District officials arrived in court Monday morning seeking an order that prohibits South Island Aggregates from operating its contaminated soil treatment and storage facility on Stebbings Road in Shawnigan Lake.
The hearing, taking place in B.C. Supreme Court in Victoria, is expected to last five days.
“CVRD legal counsel will present arguments and evidence to support the CVRD’s position that the facilities at the South Island Aggregates’ quarry in Shawnigan Lake are not permitted uses under the zoning for the property,” said a release issued by the CVRD on Monday afternoon.
Later in the day, CVRD chief administrative officer Brian Carruthers said it’s the CVRD’s hope that the court will see fit to issue such a stop-work order, which could possibly put an end to the years-old battle in the South End.
“It would hopefully be the end of this activity,” Carruthers said, noting any ruling of the court will take some time to implement following this week’s hearing.
The operation is seen by many as a major threat to the drinking water of more than 12,000 people. In 2013, despite pleas from the Shawnigan Residents’ Association and the greater community, and the hesitation of local governments, the province authorized South Island Aggregates/Cobble Hill Holdings to collect and treat five million tonnes of contaminated soil over the next 50 years at its Stebbings Road facility which sits just above the Shawnigan community’s water supply. The deal was the company could truck in 100,000 tonnes a year. Despite vocal opposition from the community, spearheaded by the Shawnigan Residents’ Association, the Environmental Appeal Board upheld the decision to grant the permit this March.
The case has been in the courts on and off ever since.
Carruthers explained that while the province indeed authorized the activity through its Ministries of Environment and Energy and Mines, “the permits state that the authorizations are subject to other legislation such as OCPs and zoning.”
South Island Aggregates “has elected not to consider local government zoning as they have proceeded with the project,” Carruthers said.
It’s that contravention, he said, that will hopefully end this saga once and for all.