ROBERT BARRON CITIZEN
The BC Court of Appeal is expected to decide by April 15 whether the controversial contaminated soil site on Shawnigan Lake can resume normal operations, at least for the time being.
The owners of the soil dump site, Cobble Hill Holdings and South Island Aggregates, presented their case to the BC Court of Appeal on April 6 after the BC Supreme Court ruling last month that determined that a contaminated soil facility was not a permitted use on their Stebbings Road property.
That decision put a stop to the importation of contaminated soil at the site, but the companies appealed the ruling and want to be given the green light to continue importing soil until the appeal is heard at a yet to be determined date.
The companies are arguing that they are facing financial hardships because they have no revenue while their operations have been curtailed pending the appeal.
But lawyers for the Cowichan Valley Regional District, which brought the case to the BC Supreme Court, argued that if the BC Court of Appeal allows operations to continue until the appeal is heard, there will be even more contaminated soil that will have to be removed from the site if the court orders it at a later date.
“We’re happy that the companies have stopped the importation of soil, and we certainly don’t want to see more soil added to that facility,” said Brian Carruthers, the CVRD’s CAO.
Carruthers said the CVRD also submitted a notice of cross-appeal to the BC Court of Appeal on April 7 requesting an order to remove the soil-management facility and all contaminated soil from the site.
Although the BC Supreme Court declared in last month’s ruling that the landfill facility is a prohibited land use, the court denied the CVRD’s request for an order to have the contaminated material and associated facilities removed from the property.
As a result, work is currently ongoing with the soil that was brought to the site before the court’s ruling.
“We were successful on almost all counts in the case that was heard by the BC Supreme Court, but not this one,” Carruthers said.
“We just applied for the cross appeal, so we expect it may be late summer or the fall before there is a decision on it by the court.”
A judicial review of the project that was instigated by the Shawnigan Residents Association has also recently concluded in the BC Supreme Court, but it’s not known when a verdict will be reached in that case either.
In the meantime, BC Supreme Court Justice Robert Sewell has made a commitment to the SRA to make a decision “as soon as possible” on the association’s application to have work on the site stopped until the court makes a final decision on the judicial review and the future of the project.