Concerns for Chemainus about Coast Environmental Boys Road expansion

Concerns for Chemainus about Coast Environmental Boys Road expansion

Invitation for complaints might be met with apprehension under the circumstances

Re: Cowichan Valley Citizen ad, Sept. 12

An interesting notification appeared on page A14 of the Citizen, on Sept. 12. Apparently, it was posted by the CVRD, although the Coast Environmental logo is the only one appearing.

Essentially, Coast Environmental is looking to expand its Boys Road Duncan facility by increasing allowed onsite material quantities. There is nothing there which would appear to be of concern for Chemainus residents, except for the quantities proposed for yard, garden and food waste. This material is to be transferred to ‘an approved composting facility.’

Since the notice does not include a footnote regarding the location, one can assume it will be to Chemainus. And one could be concerned that this will have the effect of expanding the facility. Consequently, this is a question which might be posed by Chemainus residents to the CVRD.

What is more interesting about the notice is the wording in the bottom paragraph which states that resident submissions (i.e., comments, questions, concerns or complaints) ‘under the authority of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act … will be used by the applicant to respond to you directly.’

In other words, if a resident submits a comment, question or concern/complaint it appears the CVRD will not necessarily be assessing or processing comments but will, instead, be forwarding them directly to the applicant, Coast Environmental, for response.

Most residents are vaguely familiar with the provisions of FOIP at best. The least credible interpretation of the FOIP legislation would appear to be that which the CVRD is stating in the Sept. 12 notice – that resident concerns/complaints will be forwarded to the party they are complaining about. This would appear to have the possible effect of ‘intimidating’ residents and inducing them not to comment, for fear of reprisals.

This is not to imply that Coast Environmental would do so. However, this scenario may lead to citizen unease and reluctance to say anything. An interesting case: in early 2017 several residents of the Lytton First Nation were sued by a composting facility after they complained about odours. This prompted George Heyman, the Minister of Environment, to initiate legislation ‘to prohibit the misuse of legal action to inhibit public participation’ in the democratic process.

So, the question arises: was the CVRD notification correctly worded?

Peter Ordynec