Province begins forfeiture of Shawnigan contaminated soil site

The forfeiture proceedings do not impact the closure plan for the landfill site

The province announced Wednesday afternoon that it was beginning the procedure to take over the controversial contaminated soil site at Shawnigan Lake due to non-payment of taxes on the part of the owner, Cobble Hill Holdings.

The forfeiture proceedings do not impact the closure plan for the landfill site, the province said in a press release from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. It also does not affect the Spill Prevention Order.

The site has been under litigation for years. Site owners Cobble Hill Holdings and South Island Aggregates were issued a permit by the provincial government in 2013 to receive and store up to 100,000 tonnes of contaminated soil per year at their quarry. This drew the ire of the Shawnigan Lake community, which argued that the location above the Shawnigan watershed was innapropriate for contaminated soil, as the possibility of contaminants leaking into the water was too high.

After legal wrangling the site was ordered shut down in 2017, when the operating permit was pulled. Closure plans call for the contaminated soil already there to stay at the site. Opponents have turned their sights to demanding its removal.

In the Wednesday press release the province said despite the forfeiture proceedings the parties named on the spill prevention order remain responsible for implementing the closure plan.

Cowichan Valley MLA, and longtime opponent of the contaminated soil site in Shawnigan, Sonia Furstenau was unimpressed.

“This is yet another example that demonstrates how the Ministry of Environment needs greater powers within the Environmental Management Act. Government must consider the history of operators when making these sorts of decisions, akin to the fit and proper clause used in other acts.

“We keep coming back to the same place — government is forced to take increased risks and costs because it simply doesn’t have the power to act decisively to protect a community’s drinking water,” she said.

“Ensuring the protection of clean, accessible, and healthy drinking water should be the first priority when development is proposed in a watershed. And yet the current approach shows that we seem to have our priorities backwards. Why would a community have confidence that a Spill Prevention Order or a closure plan would be followed through to the letter if a basic step like paying property taxes cannot be fulfilled?” she asked.

The ministry press release said that to date, the named parties have followed the plan and its approval conditions:

• Two new shallow monitoring wells and a new seepage blanket well were installed Nov. 4 and Nov. 6, 2019, in advance of the Nov. 18 deadline.

• The objective of those installations is to improve the groundwater monitoring network next to the landfill.

• The comprehensive pre-winter inspection under the supervision of a qualified professional was completed on Nov. 12 in advance of the Nov. 18 deadline. No upgrades or maintenance were found to be required.

• The named parties have submitted the draft quality management plan, the pre-winter inspection report and the slope stability report. The ministry is reviewing these documents.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Rent-It Centre takes over curbside collection contract in Tofino and Ucluelet

Rent It Centre’s bid was $25,865 lower than the only other bidder, SonBird Refuse and Recycling.

Tofino and Ucluelet’s Top 10 sports and arts stories of 2019

Revisiting the Coast’s best sports and arts newsmakers of the past year.

Tofino’s first cannabis dispensary opens

“I don’t know where it’s going, but happy how it’s gone so far.”

Tofino welcomes much needed veterinarian to town

West Coast has not had a full-time vet since Dr. Jane Hunt surrendered her licence in 2004.

Looking back on the West Coast’s top 10 news stories

Tofino and Ucluelet’s top headlines of 2019.

VIDEO: Cold snap brings ideal conditions for Okanagan icewine

Take an inside look at how icewine is made

Blue Monday is a myth but seasonal affective disorder and the winter blues are real

Canadian Mental Health Association says weather can affect mood

PHOTOS: Eastern Newfoundland reeling, search underway for missing man after blizzard

More than 70 centimetres of new snow fell overnight, creating whiteout conditions

Prince Harry, Meghan to give up ‘royal highness’ titles

‘Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family,’ says Queen Elizabeth II

Ice chunk from truck crushes vehicle windshield on Vancouver Island

None injured, but Nanaimo RCMP say there can be fines for accumulations of ice and snow

B.C. society calls out conservation officer after dropping off bear cub covered in ice

Ice can be seen in video matted into emaciated bear cub’s fur

Calls for dialogue as Coastal GasLink pipeline polarizes some in northern B.C.

Coastal GasLink is building the 670-kilometre pipeline from British Columbia’s northeast to Kitimat on the coast

Wind and snow spark power outages across Vancouver Island

Winter storm warning in effect for east and west regions while wind warning to hit south and north

BC Ferries hybrid ships arrive in Victoria on Saturday

The battery-operated vessels will take over smaller routes

Most Read