Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau says she’ll continue to hold the government to account over issues around the contaminated soil dump in Shawnigan Lake. (File photo)

Vancouver Island contaminated soil dump owner gets extension on closure deadline

Cobble Hill Holdings also owes $38,000 in unpaid taxes

Unpaid taxes by Cobble Hill Holdings and an extended deadline for the final closure of the company’s contaminated soil dump near Shawnigan Lake are frustrating to Sonia Furstenau.

Furstenau, the MLA for the Cowichan Valley who was one of the leaders of the successful fight to shut down the controversial facility, said she’s disappointed that CHH was given a 10-month extension to close the site, which was supposed to be closed on Oct. 31, and the fact that the property faces a pending forfeiture to the government if it doesn’t pay $38,000 in unpaid taxes by the end of November.

CHH has been warned by the Ministry of Finance that the property could be forfeited to the government if the company doesn’t pay the tax bill by Dec. 1

That has raised fears that taxpayers’ could be ultimately responsible for covering the costs of cleaning up the site.

An email from CHH said the company has no comment on the issue at this time as it is before the courts.

Furstenau said the Ministry of Environment should have made the decision to have all the contaminated soil removed when the site was closed in 2017.

RELATED STORY: SHAWNIGAN LAKE SKEPTICAL AS CONTAMINATED SOIL STAYS

“This is an unacceptable situation,” Furstenau said.

“The Shawnigan Residents Association and the community identified these possible outcomes as early as 2012. Patterns have developed over the history of this entire affair, including missed deadlines, non-compliance to permits and not meeting conditions set out by successive ministers.”

It’s been two years since the controversial landfill shut down operations when its operating permit was pulled from its owners, CHH and South Island Aggregates, by the province after years of lawsuits and demonstrations.

RELATED STORY: SOIL COMPANIES TO CLOSE SHAWNIGAN CONTAMINATED SOIL QUARRY PERMANENTLY

Earlier this month, Environment Minister George Heyman agreed to CHH’s request to push back the Oct. 31 deadline to have the site prepared for final closure until Aug. 31, 2020.

The extension is intended give the company time to bring in extra fill soil, which is not contaminated, to cap the site, a move opposed by residents who fear the contaminated soil underneath will leach into their water supply and want it all removed as soon as possible.

Cobble Hill Holdings said in its application for the deadline extension that it could not do the necessary work during the winter months.

As for the unpaid taxes and what would happen if the site was forfeited to the province, a statement from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change said the owners would still legally be required to comply with the Spill Prevention Order that was issued for the site, regardless of whether they own the property, “now or in the future”.

The statement said that if the owners forfeit the property, the ministry would still require them to close the site as per the closure plan.

RELATED STORY: SHAWNIGAN LAKE RESIDENTS TAKE TO THE STREETS OVER SOIL

“The province does not become a person responsible for remediation of a site through involuntarily acquisition,” the statement said.

“Failure to comply with any part of the order would be subject to the ministry’s compliance and enforcement policy and procedure, including administrative penalties. Ministry staff will conduct regular onsite and desktop inspections in the coming months to monitor the completion of required activities and submission of required documentation.”

Furstenau said she’ll continue to call Heyman and the government to account on all issues related to the soil dump, including raising questions in this week’s question period in the legislature.

“As I have said before, the contaminated soil should be removed before any other work is done there,” she said.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

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

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Camp Yellow Dog provides a structured home away from home

Pampered pooches enjoy the royal retreatment, but keep active, too

One piper piping during the pandemic

Tribute to health care workers reaches the 100th performance

Grads’ gratification goes beyond words for prom

Thankful Chemainus Secondary class enjoys a celebratory evening

Symphony pop-up concerts coming to Saltair

Only 40 tickets available so get them soon if you’re interested

Board of Education moves district closure week to March 22-26

Change aligns Cowichan Valley School District dates with others around the province

The pandemic is widening Canada’s workplace gender gap

Gender pay gap is incentivizing fathers to work while mothers watch children, a new B.C. study has found

Ex-Okanagan Mountie forfeits 20 days’ pay after sexual misconduct review

A former Vernon RCMP constable made sexual comments, grabbed genitals of male officer in two incidents 10 years ago

Man found dead on Okanagan trail identified as Hollywood actor

GoFundMe campaign launched for man found dead at summit of Spion Kop

3 people dead in Prince George motel fire

Fire personnel believe the blaze was suspicious although investigation in early stages

B.C. sets terms to review police, mental health, race relations

MLAs to recommend Police Act changes by May 2021

Feds announce $8.3M to deal with ‘ghost’ fishing gear in B.C. waters

Ghost gear accounts for up to 70 per cent of all macro-plastics in the ocean by weight

Almost 99% less land in B.C. burned this year compared to 2018

2018 was the worst year on record for wildfires

B.C. orders Coastal GasLink to stop pipeline construction near protected wetlands

The 670-kilometre pipeline is planned to transport natural gas from northeast B.C. to Kitimat

Most Read