New rules around the ongoing and controversial issue of large-scale soil dumping on private lands in the Cowichan Valley Regional District could soon be in place.
The CVRD is in the process of developing a new bylaw to address the practice, which has become a major concern for many in the district, particularly those in its south end, in recent years.
Robert Blackmore, the CVRD’s bylaw enforcement manager, said the potential impacts from large-volume soil dumping on private lands are prominent in the Shawnigan Lake area and can include siltation and turbidity in creeks and water courses, riparian area damage, leachate from contaminated soils as well as damage to roads and traffic safety.
He said that to address and mitigate a number of these impacts, the CVRD is currently developing a soil deposit bylaw that will regulate and manage the deposit of soil on lands within the regional district.
In the meantime, Blackmore said, in response to a number of immediate concerns with soil transportation and soil-dumping practices, a meeting was held with various agencies that have jurisdiction over soil transportation and the impacts of poor dumping practices.
Participants included the CVRD, Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement Branch, Ministry of Mines, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Capital Regional District, Malahat First Nation and the Municipality of North Cowichan.
“This group looked at the complex nature of soil management within the region and acknowledged that each jurisdiction has a big part to play in how soil is regulated,” Blackmore said.
“We all have a responsibility to align and standardize our approach to addressing soil deposits in the region.”
Sonia Furstenau, the Green MLA for Cowichan Valley, fought hard and successfully against a contaminated soil landfill near Shawnigan Lake when she was the CVRD’s director for that electoral area.
She has said that one of her top priorities as an MLA is to step up provincial measures to deal with such soil-dumping sites on private lands in the regional district, and across B.C.
Furstenau acknowledged that she has had “an ongoing desire” to see a soil-dumping bylaw introduced in the CVRD.
“Like a number of other regional districts in B.C., the CVRD is positioned close to an urban centre and the issues around soil removal and deposit are growing every year,” she said.
“The bylaw will give a tool to the local government to address these challenges at a local level.”
Sierra Acton, who replaced Furstenau as the CVRD’s director for Shawnigan Lake, said she’s hopeful that the implementation of the new soil deposit bylaw, combined with a coordinated enforcement response, will help to protect the local environment from the impacts of poor soil dumping practices.