Residents Association planning Victoria rally

Homeowners, business people and students will rally in Victoria Thursday, March 27, taking their concerns about contaminated soil dumping to the steps of the Legislature.

The Shawnigan Residents Association is holding a peaceful rally from 9-11 a.m. on the grounds of the Victoria Legislature to voice its opposition to the accepting of contaminated soil in the watershed by South Island Aggregates.

Environmental Appeal Board hearings into SIA’s contaminated soil dump continue next week and, according to SRA spokesperson and acting president Calvin Cook, "the people of Shawnigan Lake are taking their message to Premier [Christy] Clark and Minister [Mary] Polak’s front door."

They will be joined for the rally by staff and students from Shawnigan Lake School as well as a range of community members and groups.

"The issue of allowing a contaminated soil dump to be placed on a slope above our community drinking watershed, given the conflicting science and degree of risk to our water supply, is beyond comprehension," Cook said.

"Our community is raising over $200,000 to fight this decision in front of the EAB yet our premier and Minister of the Environment, who are responsible for protecting us and our families from harm, remain in support of big business and remain silent," he continued.

"The premier’s silence is telling. The Throne Speech was all about Water Week

and water quality and yet here’s a classic example of the need to worry about it. Dave Robertson, headmaster from Shawnigan Lake School has nailed it on the head in two letters to her stating the need for leadership."

Both Shawnigan Lake and Dwight private schools have added their voices to the protest over the SIA dumping.

Cook said that proponents of the dumping point to jobs being created at the site but then pointed out that Shawnigan Lake School employs more than 400 people and if even 10 per cent of the student population falls off because of concerns about water quality, jobs could be lost at the school.

"People thought common sense would prevail but the permit’s been granted," Cook said. "We’re in front of the Environmental Appeal Board and it’s coming down to who has the best lawyer. It seems ludicrous."

The SRA is inviting anyone interested in the situation to join the event and swell the voice of opposition.

South Island Aggregates has been granted a permit by the B.C. Ministry of the Environment to dump five million tonnes of contaminated soil on a slope above Shawnigan Lake.