SIA hearing ends without decision

People waiting for a decision by the B.C. Court of Appeal on the contaminated soil treatment facility near Shawnigan Lake will have to wait.

People waiting for a decision by the B.C. Court of Appeal on the controversial contaminated soil treatment facility and landfill near Shawnigan Lake will have to wait.

The two-day court hearing on the appeal from South Island Aggregates and Cobble Hill Holdings, the owners of the landfill, ended on Aug. 18 in Vancouver without a summary judgement from the three judges who presided over it.

A judgment is expected at a later date, but no specific time was given.

The facility’s owners were appealing a ruling made by the B.C. Supreme Court in March.

That ruling concluded that a contaminated soil treatment facility and landfill are not permitted uses of the property, located on Stebbings Road.

That court case was initiated by the Cowichan Valley Regional District which successfully argued it has jurisdictional authority over the site.

Mike Tippett, the CVRD’s manager of community and regional planning, said the regional district had a good case, and had hoped the court would have ruled in its favour at the end of the hearing.

“It looks like we’ll have to wait for it,” he said.

But, regardless of the fact that the court’s decision will come at a later date, the facility now has to stop importing contaminated soil to the site.

As part of its decision in March, the supreme court had ordered that no further contaminated soil could be imported to the site until the company’s appeal of its decision was heard.

But that ruling was set aside in April by Court of Appeal Justice Pamela Kirkpatrick, who decided to allow the importation of contaminated soil to continue until the appeal was heard.

That time has come, but the companies may apply to have the stay of the supreme court’s decision extended so they can continue importing contaminated soil until the decision on their appeal is made.

Aurora Faulkner-Killam is a lawyer from the Victoria-based law firm Cox, Taylor that is representing the landfill’s owners.

She acknowledged the companies are no longer allowed to import contaminated soil as of the end of the hearing.

“But the owners and operators reserve the right to make further applications to renew the stay of the supreme court’s decision (that was granted in April),” she said.

“However, they have not applied for a stay at this stage.”

Calvin Cook, president of the Shawnigan Residents Association, said SRA members have been following the CVRD’s efforts to stop the soil operation in the courts closely.

The SRA was the main instigator of a judicial review of the contaminated soil operation that was heard over 11 days by the B.C. Supreme Court in February as part of its own efforts to bring the operation to a halt.

The association is still waiting for the final decision from Justice Robert Sewell on the judicial review.

Cook said he had hoped the appeals court would have ruled on the company’s appeal at the end of the hearing on Aug. 18.

He said the judge who conducted the judicial review in February made a commitment at the time that he would make a decision as soon as possible on the SRA’s application to have work on the site stopped until the court makes a final determination on the review.

“But that was on Feb. 29 and we haven’t heard anything since then,” Cook said.