Soil dumping protest goes big with billboard

If it can happen in Shawnigan, it can happen in your community, too.

That is one of the messages that the Shawnigan Residents Association is aiming to spread in their continuing fight against the dumping of contaminated soil in the Shawnigan Lake watershed, with a new billboard erected Wednesday, Jan. 22 on the Patricia Bay Highway heading into Victoria.

“It’s our way of trying to get the word out there,” said Calvin Cook, the SRA’s vice president.

The SRA, alongside the Cowichan Valley Regional District, are in a battle with South Island Aggregates, a company that has been granted a permit by the provincial

Environment Ministry to dump thousands of tonnes of contaminated soil in a gravel pit on its site in the watershed.

Dumping is currently stayed while the CVRD and SRA appeal the permit.

Because such facilities can generate significant revenue, and the existence of contaminated soil creates a need for such facilities, Cook said they realize dirty dirt will be deposited somewhere. But there are some places in our communities that it shouldn’t go.

“All we’re saying is they’re not allowed within the ALR, they’re not allowed within a park, surely they shouldn’t be allowed within a community watershed,” he said. “We understand nobody wants these in their backyard, but is a community watershed even a place that should be entertained to put these?”

Due to rainfall amounts and the proximity to Shawnigan creek, Cook said, SIA’s property is not a good choice.

“It just seems like this would be one of the first places that you would strike off the list,” he said.

With the placement of the billboard in a spot where everyone coming from the airport and the ferries will see it, along with visibility for many greater Victoria commuters, Cook said they are looking to generate more support from outside of the Cowichan Valley.

It’s particularly important as the group thinks they’re in for a long legal battle against the permit.

“We’re going to need as much support as we can get,” he said.

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