Yesterday (March 21, 2016) the Supreme Court order an immediate end to the dumping of contaminated soil in Cowichan, near Shawnigan Lake.
In 2013, the Government of BC awarded a permit for 100,000 pounds of contaminated soil to be dumped in an area uphill from Shawnigan Lake. The community has almost unanimously fought this permit, doggedly and persistently.
The Cowichan Valley Regional District petitioned the Supreme Court, requesting that the dumping of contaminated soils in a location uphill from Shawnigan Lake (the Cowichan water reservoir) be stopped. On March 21 the Honourable Mr. Justice B.D. MacKenzie ordered an immediate end to the dumping of the contaminated soil. He also ordered that the respondents, (Cobble Hill Holdings Ltd., South Island Resource Management Ltd. and South Island Aggregates Ltd.) pay for the legal costs incurred by the Cowichan Valley Regional District.
The response from Cowichan on social media was one of sheer joy.
- Georgia Collins, who currently sits as president of the Cowichan-Malahat-Langford NDP Electoral District Association, posted “:)))))))))))))))))))))))) !!!!!!!! BEST DAY OF MY LIFE!!!!!!!!! We WIN, WITH COSTS AND AN INJUNCTION!!!!”
- Sonia Furstenau, Area Director at Cowichan Valley Regional District, posted “BC Supreme Court has ruled that a contaminated soil treatment facility is not a permitted use on the property at 640 Stebbings Road. CVRD successful in its petiton!”
CBC radio reports this morning noted that the The Government of BC was reviewing the decision, and notes (in the linked article in the Resources below) that “Cobble Hill Holdings, which owns the property, is considering an appeal of the decision, according to the operator.”
There is a second trial before the courts right now, in which opponents are seeking to overturn a provincial permit that allows the dumping of 100,000 tonnes a year of contaminated soil over a 50 year period.
Links to other articles providing more details are provided in the Resources section below.
Leader of the Opposition and our district MLA John Horgan issued the following response
B.C. New Democrat leader John Horgan issued the following statement on the B.C Supreme Court ruling that the dumping of contaminated soil at 640 Stebbings Road is not a permitted use:
“This court decision is very welcome news, and vindicates the Shawnigan Lake community members who have been protesting against the dumping of contaminated soil on the property.
“The Christy Clark government has continuously refused to listen to Shawnigan Lake residents, and refused to listen to local MLA Bill Routley and the Official Opposition who have been calling for a halt to the dumping that the community believes may be putting the clean water of Shawnigan Lake at risk.
“Hopefully this Supreme Court decision will put a halt to this nonsense, and the Clark government will assure residents that this sort of thing won’t happen again.”
MLA Andrew Weaver issued the following response
Andrew Weaver, Leader of the B.C. Green Party and MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head issued the following statement in response to the BC Supreme Court Ruling that a contaminated landfill is not a permitted land use at South Island Aggregates Quarry:
“I want to recognize the hard work of Shawnigan Lake residents in coming together as a community and standing up for their rights in the face of government inaction. This is a vindication of their concerns, and wouldn’t have been possible without their tireless effort.”
“I look forward to reviewing the ruling and working with local politicians and residents to ensure that we continue to move this issue forward in a way that protects the rights of the Shawnigan Lake community.”
The judgement, in part, reads:
Cowichan Valley (Regional District) v. Cobble Hill Holdings Ltd. Page 36
7. Orders (made by the presiding judge, the Honourable Mr. Justice B.D. MacKenzie)
 Given these conclusions, I therefore order that:
(a) Following the decision in Lund, there is a declaration that a contaminated soil treatment facility is not a permitted use on the property located at 640 Stebbings Road, in the Cowichan Valley Regional District, under the zoning bylaw;
(b) There is a declaration that the landfill facility located at 640 Stebbings Road, in the Cowichan Valley Regional District, is not a permitted use under the zoning bylaw;
(c) There is a declaration that the permanent encapsulation in engineered cells of refuse, waste or contaminated soil not originating on the property is not a permitted land use at the Cowichan Valley (Regional District) v. Cobble Hill Holdings Ltd. property at 640 Stebbings Road, in the Cowichan Valley Regional District;
(d) An injunction restraining the respondents, Cobble Hill Holdings Ltd., South Island Resource Management Ltd. and South Island Aggregates Ltd., and all persons having notice of this order from using, or allowing, or permitting the use of, the property as a contaminated soil treatment facility, contrary to the zoning bylaw;
(e) An injunction restraining the respondents, Cobble Hill Holdings Ltd., South Island Resource Management Ltd. and South Island Aggregates Ltd., and all persons having notice of this order from using, or allowing, or permitting the use of, the property as a landfill facility, contrary to the zoning bylaw;
(f) An injunction restraining the respondents, Cobble Hill Holdings Ltd., South Island Resource Management Ltd., and South Island Aggregates Ltd., from importing onto the property located at 640 Stebbings Road, in the Cowichan Valley Regional District, any waste material, including contaminated soil, that is required to be permanently encapsulated in engineered cells.
 Because of the difficulty in enforcing a mandatory injunction, and in separating the different material now on site, I decline to order the removal of any facilities or product presently situated on the property….
 Turning to costs, the petitioner has been successful and is entitled to costs on Scale B.
- MLA Andrew Weaver’s response
- John Horgan’s (Leader of the Opposition and our district MLA) response
- The full Judgement (pdf)
- In the Globe and Mail: Court halts dumping of contaminated soil near B.C.’s Shawnigan Lake
- On CBC: Shawnigan Lake contaminated soil dump not allowed, rules B.C. Supreme Court
- Green MLA seeks answers as an engineer report finds no conflict of interest re contaminated soil at Shawnigan
- Minister Polak cancels contaminated soil permit, Shawnigan Lake
- Dumping toxic soil near Shawnigan Lake temporarily halted
- Plain English report of April 6 court events; Second Shawnigan Lake court ruling expected on Friday, April 15
- Cowichan watershed-protection community celebrates victory
- ICYMI: W5 probes contaminated soil dump uphill from Shawnigan Lake in “Trouble in Paradise”
- NDP critical of increasing carbon emissions under Clark’s leadership
- SRA update on the contaminated soil dumping happening near Shawnigan and Sooke water reserves
- Stand with Shawnigan on January 6, 2015
- CHEK News covers the nine arrests at Shawnigan Lake, on Tues Dec 22
- Hacktivist group Anonymous turns attention to Shawnigan Lake
- Andrew Weaver, MLA, calls for immediate stop to toxic soil dumped near Shawnigan/Sooke water reservoirs
- BC Gov designates Vancouver Island the provincial toxic dumping ground; Shawnigan Lake, Sooke Lake water reserves at risk