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.

Just Posted

Pacific Western Brewing planting more than 70,000 seedlings between Prince George and Quesnel

Cariboo Cares reforestation program also planted thousands of seedlings near 70 Mile House last year

Column: Do log experts take away jobs in BC?

Columnist Jim Hilton argues the local forestry industry needs better residue management strategies

Funds still available in North Cariboo through Wildfire Business Transition Program

Community Futures North Cariboo hopes local businesses will take advantage of the opportunity

Quesnel and District Community Arts Council will celebrate 45th anniversary during Culture Days

Several activities and events are planned for Sept. 27-29, including second Indigenous Artist Show

Public invited to learn more about pasture rejuvenation trials south of Quesnel

A pasture walk with B.C. Forage Council will take place Sept. 18 at Australian Ranch

VIDEO: Liberals make child care pledge, Greens unveil platform on Day 6 of campaign

Green party leader Elizabeth May unveils her party’s platform in Toronto

B.C. wants to be part of global resolution in opioid company bankruptcy claim

Government says settlement must include Canadian claims for devastation created by overdose crisis

B.C. ends ‘birth alerts’ in child welfare cases

‘Social service workers will no longer share information about expectant parents without consent’

U.S. student, killed in Bamfield bus crash, remembered as ‘kind, intelligent, talented’

John Geerdes, 18, was one of two UVic students killed in the crash on Friday night

Free Tesla 3 offered with purchase of Surrey townhome

Century Group’s offer for Viridian development runs through Oct. 31

B.C. communities urged to improve access for disabled people

One in four B.C. residents has disability, most want to work

Sikh millworker lodges human rights complaint against Interfor, again

Mander Sohal, fired from Delta’s Acorn Mill, alleges discrimination based on religion and disability

UVic students killed in Bamfield bus crash were from Winnipeg, Iowa City

Authorities said the two victims were a man and a woman, both aged 18

Safety concerns resurface after fatal bus crash on Vancouver Island

Huu-ay-aht First Nations wants a safe route between Bamfield and Port Alberni

Most Read