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Cowichan directors say SIA's Shawnigan site improperly zoned to treat dirty dirt
Improper zoning to treat contaminated soil is being cited by Cowichan directors fighting a provincial permit for dumping and remediating five million tonnes of earth near Shawnigan Lake.
Cowichan Valley Regional District's notice, served Thursday to South Island Aggregates, claims the company's proposed soil-remediation facility violates zoning on its property, Friday's news release states.
SIA's property is currently zoned primary forestry, F-1, CVRD staff said.
"We have instructed our lawyers to inform SIA the proposed remediation facility and land use is not permitted under the CVRD's zoning," said Rob Hutchins, CVRD Chairman.
"Consequently, we are in consultation with lawyers about making an application to the B.C. Supreme Court to ask that it rule on the CVRD's authority to enforce the zoning on the SIA property."
SIA's F-1 zoning allows gravel extraction from its quarry, where the contaminated soil, from various sources, would be treated, explained Tom Anderson, CVRD's head of planning and development.
"But we're saying they need a new zoning allowing such a (soil) treatment facility."
The CVRD passed a bylaw in around 2000 banning contaminated soil storage anywhere in the regional district, he noted.
SIA is also seeking a mines permit to refill its pit as rock quarry reclamation, added Anderson.
"Our next actions will depend on the responses we get from both SIA, and the Environmental Appeal Board," Hutchins says.
The CVRD has also requested an investigation under Section 29 of the Drinking Water Protection Act.
"The CVRD has been firm in its opposition to the proposed soil remediation facility, and has taken action to protect residents who depend on potable domestic-water supplies from the Shawnigan Lake watershed," writes Hutchins.
The CVRD estimates more than 12,000 people depend on Shawnigan's watershed. That includes some 2,700 residents served by CVRD-owned and operated systems drawing directly from the lake, and from wells drilled into aquifers down-slope from SIA's property, he explains.
The CVRD plans to fight the environment ministry's permit to SIA, through the Environmental Appeal Board.
The CVRD aims to claim the ministry didn't adequately take into account that SIA's proposal does not comply with CVRD zoning regulations, Hutchins' release says.
The CVRD also plans to apply to the appeal board for a stay to prevent SIA from acting on its permit — basically stopping soil dumping — during the appeal.
SIA was issued the permit Aug. 21 by ministry bureaucrat Hubert Bunce — against overwhelming opposition from lake-area residents.
The Shawnigan Residents Association has already launched its own appeal of the decision, and requested an appeal board soil-dumping stay.
Hutchins says he expects the CVRD and SRA will cooperate so both parties maximize their legal dollars without duplicating efforts.
The permit allows SIA to build and run a soil-remediation facility capable of treating up to five million tonnes of contaminated soils, during 50 years, in a quarry off Stebbings Road.