While this is still likely not the end of the saga, it was one of the first pieces of good news for opponents of a contaminated soil landfill in Shawnigan Lake.
A B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled Monday that the site on Stebbings Road contravenes Cowichan Valley Regional District bylaws, which prohibit the property from being put to this use.
The fight to date has been long and bitter.
Residents have spent years and hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting the importation of the soil to a spot above the primary drinking water source, Shawnigan Lake.
The companies involved, Cobble Hill Holdings and South Island Aggregates, have also spent considerable coin fighting the legal battle.
The Cowichan Valley Regional District (who in the end is us, the taxpayers), have shelled out big bucks to get to this point too, and there is likely more legal wrangling to come.
The B.C. Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada remain as open avenues for further court hearings for the losing side.
And Monday’s ruling is just on the CVRD’s case. A separate case brought by the Shawnigan Residents Association has yet to be decided.
Residents have been tireless in their opposition to the site. Folks with placards have been a mainstay on the road to the site as the trucks have rolled in with the contaminated material over a span of many months. There have even been a few arrests.
Protesters have taken their cause to the legislature in Victoria, and to the airwaves with a piece on nationally televised newsmagazine W5.
The former Malahat chief’s resignation last year was tied to his relationship with the owners of the contaminated soil dump.
And all this when the CVRD’s bylaws prohibited the use of the land in question for that purpose from the start.
It’s encouraging, at least, that the court has acknowledged the authority of the regional district’s bylaws.
It was worrying that our local representatives could pass regulations in an effort to protect the community’s interests, yet have it count for nothing.
Which brings us to the discouraging fact that the Shawnigan residents and those that support them have felt in this process as if they were not only fighting against a contaminated soil facility in their watershed, but against the provincial government that is supposed to represent them and protect their interests.
Residents were aghast and many were shocked when the province granted the permit for the soil dump to proceed.
There is a long way to go for the province to rebuild any credibility with Shawnigan.