News

Incinerator a burning question in Glenora

This poster started popping up this week in various Cowichan locations. -
This poster started popping up this week in various Cowichan locations.
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Posters taped on mailboxes in East Glenora stating Cowichan Tribes is “days away,” from approving a garbage incinerator plant on Glenora Road, near the Cowichan Tribes elementary school are untrue, the band’s chief said Wednesday.

“We’re just exploring it, we’re in the early stages, there’s nothing definite yet,” said Chief William Seymour.

A News Leader Pictorial reader took a picture of the poster — the source of which is unknown — and posted it on Facebook.

“The toxic effects from this plant would endanger human health; there is a First Nations’ elementary school and three large housing subdivisions in close proximity,” the poster reads. “Studies have proven increased lung cancer, birth defects and increased incidents of childhood cancers.”

The poster encourages locals to send letters of protest to Seymour and Tribes general manager Maureen Tommy.

“Children’s lives and your health are at risk,” the poster said. “This is being kept quiet. Cowichan Tribes members are also in the dark...”

Seymour said the band is investigating the idea because of the rising costs of garbage removal. The band council is awaiting a report from the Khowutzun Development Corporation before making any decision.

“Tipping fees have gone way up. They’re increasing every three months,” he said.

Currently, Cowichan Tribes garbage goes to the Cowichan Valley Regional District transfer facility at Bings Creek, where it is sorted and shipped to Washington state.

Former band manager Ernie Elliott, who is steering the project for the KDC could not be reached for comment by press time.

But the Cowichan Tribes’ chief said the idea was presented to the CVRD earlier this year.

“Glenora Road was identified as a good spot, but we are exploring others,” Seymour said, adding that whatever site is chosen, it needs to be close to a hydro substation.

“We’re waiting on the CVRD to see if they will support such a venture,” Seymour said.

He added if the CVRD supported the idea, it would have to be reviewed by both the band’s land management and environmental committees before a decision was made.

Glenora Area Director Loren Duncan, confirmed the subject had gone before the board earlier this year.

“We’ve been discussing that in camera, which means I can’t talk about it,” Duncan said, adding the subject could be on the agenda for the CVRD’s next meeting, July 9. “I can’t tell you why they came to us. It will become evident at a later time.”

Legal, land and labour issues usually go in camera, he added.

Because the proposed incinerator would be on reserve land, the CVRD doesn’t have the jurisdiction to grant or deny permission.

“We’re 100% out of it, we have nothing to do with First Nations land,” Duncan said.

The decision falls under federal jurisdiction.

The Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada’s Land Management Manual states all activities on First Nations lands must be carried out in an environmentally responsible manner.

Before a permit can be granted, an environmental assessment, paid for by the band, would need to be conducted by a qualified third party. The assessor could place monitoring conditions on the project, such as air quality.

Once the assessment is completed, the federal department has three options: green light or reject the project, or conduct a panel review because of public and social concerns.

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