Labelling groups as ‘enemy’ attempt to limit public comment

Groups such as Shawnigan Basin Society, One Cowichan concerned with protecting our environment

Labelling groups as ‘enemy’ attempt to limit public comment

Who is the “enemy within”?

Citizen groups such as the Shawnigan Basin Society and One Cowichan are concerned with protecting our environment and promoting healthy watersheds and leaving a viable earth for future generations. According to what Mr. Ian Morrison, CVRD vice chair, has stated in an address to the Cowichan Lake District Chamber of Commerce, citizen groups concerned about the environment are the “enemy within”, “semi-secret quasi political groups” who are “lobbying in the name of protecting the environment” but are “…not out to save the world, they’re out to kick business.” Apparently, Mr. Klaus Kuhn, Area I director, agrees with Mr. Morrison.

Labelling citizen groups as “quasi political” and “enemies within” appears to be an attempt to suppress legitimate comment by the public on matters that concern them.

I used to be befuddled by which bylaws the CVRD decides to enforce. On the one hand, a person who wishes to make a smaller environmental footprint by living in a tiny house with a composting toilet is threatened with fines up to $1,000/day; on the other, a person who wishes to make money by dumping contaminated fill on a site zoned as RR2 simply gets the site registered as a contaminated site by the Ministry of Environment (MoE) and then allowed to continue dumping fill, wood waste and liquids of unknown origin. This despite the fact that the watershed is being contaminated and the adjacent property’s well, that used to provide potable water, now has more than five times the BC Water Quality Guidelines’ allowable lead levels. MoE states that landfilling at this site is under the jurisdiction of the CVRD while the CVRD states that it is under the jurisdiction of MoE. Meanwhile, neighbours of the landfill site continue to despair.

The befuddlement I had earlier is now gone since it occurs to me that building a tiny house, as opposed to a large house, does not greatly promote business development whereas landfilling does, albeit mostly CRD and not CVRD business.

With the new soil deposit bylaw in place since April 24, 2019 one would have thought that the CVRD bylaw officer would have put a stop to dumping further materials onto this site that is registered by the MoE as a contaminated site. The Soil Deposit Bylaw specifically states that if one is to dump more than 1,000 cubic metres of “fill” in a calendar year one needs to have a permit from the CVRD. Much more than 1,000 cubic metres is being dumped each month at this site. In addition, hydrovac trucks are dumping their liquids of unknown content, further impacting the watershed. Although a permit application has been submitted, no permit has been issued for this site, yet the dumping continues. When I pointed this out to Mr. Ian MacDonald, manager of Building Inspection and Bylaw Enforcement, he informed me that this site is “being monitored by staff to ensure compliance with all CVRD requirements.” I am baffled by what compliance requirements are being followed since it seems that anything goes.

More than one rogue fill site operation is occurring in the South Cowichan region. If I were a property owner operating a proper fill site with all the necessary permits, with wheel washes and followed all the provincial and CVRD regulations, I think I would be quite upset with the CVRD for allowing rogue operations to continue.

Bernhard Juurlink

Mill Bay

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