Like this article? rabble is reader-supported journalism. Chip in to keep stories like these coming.
Shawnigan Lake, B.C. residents celebrated a victory last week when Victoria City Council unanimously passed a motion supporting the community and requesting that the province revoke Cobble Hill Holdings and South Island Aggregate's soil dumping permit.
Currently, the company's permit allows them to dump 100,000 tons of contaminated soil annually, uphill from the town's watershed.
For months, the small island town has been protesting the project.
"It's good for morale," says Sonia Furstenau, Shawnigan Lake Area Director. "We appreciate any and all solidarity. We certainly see a lot of solidarity across the board but it's very nice for the City of Victoria to make it official that they stand with us."
Beyond simply requesting a removal of the permit, Victoria City Council also expressed concern over the lack of respect for local government input. Councillors stated in their motion that the provincial government should adhere to a local government's jurisdiction over land use.
Also taking place in Victoria is the Shawnigan Lake Resident's Association's (SRA) judicial review of the Environmental Appeal Board's initial decision to grant this permit and whether or not it has any merit.
Some compelling evidence brought forward throughout the judicial process involves email correspondence suggesting a deal between Cobble Hill Holdings -- which owns the dumping site -- and the engineering firm hired to write its technical reports. The deal promised a 50-50 split of the landfill's profits, calling into question the credibility of the technical reports that were instrumental in the provincial government's environmental assessment of the project.
"My disappointment with the Ministry of Environment is deepening by the day," says Furstenau. "I would think that a regulatory agency, hearing all of this evidence that has been presented in court…would respond to that by saying 'well, we're not really comfortable with all of this.' Instead…they're going to defend the company. I find their actions to be the most troubling."
The judiciary hearings are currently in their second week, with multiple Shawnigan Lake residents attending to show their solidarity of their community. The SRA hopes the permit will be revoked as a result of the evidence brought forward.
Alyse Kotyk is a Vancouver-based writer and editor with a passion for social justice and storytelling. She studied English Literature and Global Development at Queen's University and is excited by media that digs deep, asks questions and shares narratives. Alyse was the Editor of Servants Quarters and has written for the Queen's News Centre, Quietly Media and the Vancouver Observer. She is now rabble's News Intern.
Photo: flickr/ Harold
Thank you for reading this story…
More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.
rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.
So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.
And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.