By John McKinley – Cowichan News Leader Pictorial
Published: August 02, 2012 9:00 AM
Updated: August 02, 2012 10:47 AM
The Cowichan Valley Regional District has delivered the message to the province as clearly as possible:
“No” to the South Island Aggregates contaminated soil proposal and “no” to any similar dumping in any Cowichan watershed area, period.
Instead, the district will begin work on a bylaw that would ban dumping in Cowichan watersheds entirely, and wants to work with the provincial environment ministry to pinpoint areas where such activity could potentially safely take place.
The message was unanimously endorsed by CVRD directors during a meeting last night.
Shawnigan Lake Director Bruce Fraser said directors are tired of a situation he feels amounts to a provincial dereliction of duty — an out-of-site, out-of-mind mindset in the capital that allows out-of-area developers to dump in Cowichan virtually at will.
“Basically what we have is an out-of-control situation. The regulations are in place, but they don’t have the capacity to enforce them,” he said.
Of particular concern is the potential to affect the Shawnigan Lake water supply.
“Victoria would recoil in horror at this in their watershed,” Fraser said.
According to Fraser, the province had rejected an earlier attempt by the CVRD to ban out-of-area dumping. What makes this attempt different is the focus on watershed areas, and a willingness by the CVRD to accept the necessity of some dumping and work toward finding the most suitable locations.
SIA maintains its proposal includes all the necessary safeguards and could actually reduce the risk to the watershed by offering treatment and reducing incidents of illegal dumping.
While Fraser acknowledged the board’s concern is far wider than the specific SIA proposal, that proposal cannot be supported given the high level of public concern.
“The public is being asked to accept a level of risk without knowing what that risk will be,” he said.
The province has no obligation to heed CVRD wishes with either the SIA proposal, or the bylaw, but public response to the SIA plan is one factor ministry staff is required to take into account. Fraser hopes that will be enough.
“I would certainly hope so, otherwise there would be absolutely hell to pay.”