Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)

Government allows contaminated soil to remain at B.C.’s Shawnigan Lake

Community members now left to indefinitely monitor the site

The dirty dirt stays where it is.

The provincial government announced July 2 a final closure plan that fails to remove about 100,000 tonnes of contaminated soil at a site in Shawnigan Lake by Stebbings Road.

The dumping was controversial from the start.

“Abandoning contaminated soil above a water source for 12,000 people should be an impossible conclusion to come to, and instead we have a system in which the minister appears to be saying that this is the only conclusion he is able to make,” said Sonia Furstenau, MLA for Cowichan Valley. “That is unacceptable for my community and it is unacceptable for every community in British Columbia. Every single citizen of this province deserves to have a government that puts protecting their drinking water as a top priority. Failing to do that is a failure of this government.”

READ ALSO: Tentative plans call for contaminated soil to stay at contentious Shawnigan Lake site

The provincial government says leaving the soil at the site is safe.

“Based on a comprehensive technical review of the plan and taking into consideration the scientific evidence and data, the approved plan with conditions provides for sufficient protection of the environment and watershed,” states the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change in their announcement.

It has been more than two years since the controversial landfill was closed to new soil when its operating permit was pulled by the province after years of ​lawsuits and protests.

Now the province is turning the site back over to the owners to implement the final closure plan, which does not include removing the contaminated soil.

“It is important to note that Shawnigan is not only a key community drinking water source, it could serve as a reservoir for other communities during times of drought,” said Furstenau, who has been advocating for the community of Shawnigan Lake since 2013. She was elected CVRD district area director in 2014.

READ ALSO: Shawnigan Lake residents take to the streets over soil

“Currently, we are in the midst of extreme drought on Vancouver Island. Over the past two years I have continued to work with the community, the Shawnigan Research Group, ministry staff, and professional experts. We have raised this issue countless times in the legislature — in fact, it spurred on recent legislative changes, including the passage of the Professional Governance Act.”

The B.C. Green Caucus introduced​ a private member’s bill in 2018​ that would have provided government with the tools to limit solid waste dumps above aquifers.

Furstenau is furious.

“Anyone who knows the history of this issue in Shawnigan knows that the soil remaining on site is not an appropriate solution. In an era when droughts are more common, and our water resources need more protection, government must have the ability to protect our resources and ensure water security for all of our communities. We demand more from this government,” she said.

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

Just Posted

From the archives of the 100 Mile Free Press

40 YEARS AGO (1980): Local members of the British Columbia Government Employees… Continue reading

Disaster recovery resources available for CRD residents impacted by flooding

Deadline is Aug. 5, 2020 to apply for disaster financial assistance

Williams Lake RCMP capture fugitive walking along Highway 97 in city limits

Witness said they could hear police yelling for suspect to ‘get down’

No active confirmed COVID-19 cases in Interior Health: BCCDC

Numbers from the BCCDC’s dashboard show 193 of the 195 COVID-19 cases in the region have recovered

March dental conference key to many of B.C.’s COVID-19 cases

Early infections from China, Iran were quickly contained

MAP: Dr. Henry reveals which B.C. regions have seen most COVID-19 cases

B.C. health officials release a first look at how the novel coronavirus has reached all corners of the province

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation woman, 26, fatally shot by police in Edmundston, N.B.

Police were conducting a well-being check at the time of the incident

Seniors to receive up to $500 in promised COVID-19 emergency aid in early July

The Liberal government first promised the extra help in mid-May, but had to create a new system to deliver the aid

VIDEO: Revelstoke bear wanders into Animal House pet store

Staff got ready to chase it out with a broom

New study is first full list of species that only exist in Canada

Almost 40 per cent of them are critically imperilled or imperilled and eight are already extinct

Federal aid for care home systems needed ahead of second wave, advocates say

Ontario Long Term Care Association calling for more action

Horgan calls for national anti-racism program; will pitch idea to PM, premiers

Premier John Horgan said he’s horrified by the death of George Floyd in the United States

Most Read