Ombudsperson Office ceases ECO Depot investigation

The province’s Office of the Ombudsperson has closed its investigation into a complaint about the South Cowichan ECO Depot.

However, it didn’t necessarily side with the Cowichan Valley Regional District.

The complaint was made by Joseph Gollner, a member of the anti-ECO Depot CT Group.

Gollner argued the district had misinterpreted its own zoning bylaw, and had not been responsive to community concerns about the recycling facility’s location.

On Monday, ombudsperson officer Scott Wingrove advised the CVRD that the complaint file had been closed.

“After we began investigation, the regional district announced that it would hold a referendum to determine the community’s level of support for the depot’s location,” he wrote to Bob McDonald, the CVRD’s manager of recycling and waste management.

“We also learned that another person had filed a complaint in the B.C. Supreme Court seeking a declaration regarding the regional district’s interpretation of the word ‘utility’ (in the zoning bylaw).”

Which is why the ombudsperson had ceased its investigation.

“As both the court case and the referendum (have) the potential to remedy the complainant’s concerns, we discontinued our investigation,” Wingrove wrote.

Gollner, meanwhile, is out of town and could not be reached for comment.

However, CT Group members have long argued that the district does not have the authority under its existing zoning bylaw for the Cameron-Taggart Road property to locate the depot there.

The CVRD, meanwhile, maintains the recycling transfer station is a utility, which means it could be located in any zone.

A referendum for south-end voters in Cobble Hill, Mill Bay and Shawnigan Lake is scheduled for Nov. 19, while the ongoing court proceedings led by ECO Depot opponent and CVRD election candidate Dara Quast are expected to continue into October.

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