SIA not just a local issue

Cobble Hill – Shawnigan Lake’s “water, gravel pit, soil” issue is not merely a local problem.

Throughout the province, we have been dithering with this for decades. The crux is who holds the responsibility. On October 4, 2008, Ministry of Mines, in issuing their permit to South Island Aggregates carefully reminded the company that other legislation and by-laws “may be required”. One would assume from this, that each ministry and/or district would have jurisdiction over legislation and by-laws that were specific to each jurisdiction, i.e. Ministry of Mines would ensure that all the regulations regarding their Mines Act Permit be complied with; Ministry of Environment would ascertain that all applicable regulations regarding the environment be followed; CVRD would advise whether or not the permit conflicted with their Official Community Plans and/or zoning by-laws. Surely the expectation that failure to comply would met with the requirement to promptly correct the problem or expect to have the permit invalidated is not unrealistic.

So what is Shawnigan Lake’s problem? SIA’s current Mines Act Permit Q-8-094, approval #06-1610355-1004 issued on October 4, 2008 is in compliance. The proposed changes to the permit are in contravention of CVRD zoning by-law #985. The public would assume that all changes to the original Mines Permit be approved in the same fashion as the original. This poses the question of who pays to ensure the regulations are upheld? Do the various provincial ministries expect CVRD to shoulder the legal costs of defending its regulations against actions of the Province? Do we need additional province-wide legislation to deal with this?

Finally, and to the major point, how many more of my tax dollars will be squandered while various levels of government bicker over a proposed amendment to SIA’s permit that would put SIA into contravention with the CVRD zoning by-law?

Lavonne Huneck Cobble Hill