Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau says she’ll continue to hold the government to account over issues around the contaminated soil dump in Shawnigan Lake. (File photo)

Vancouver Island contaminated soil dump owner gets extension on closure deadline

Cobble Hill Holdings also owes $38,000 in unpaid taxes

Unpaid taxes by Cobble Hill Holdings and an extended deadline for the final closure of the company’s contaminated soil dump near Shawnigan Lake are frustrating to Sonia Furstenau.

Furstenau, the MLA for the Cowichan Valley who was one of the leaders of the successful fight to shut down the controversial facility, said she’s disappointed that CHH was given a 10-month extension to close the site, which was supposed to be closed on Oct. 31, and the fact that the property faces a pending forfeiture to the government if it doesn’t pay $38,000 in unpaid taxes by the end of November.

CHH has been warned by the Ministry of Finance that the property could be forfeited to the government if the company doesn’t pay the tax bill by Dec. 1

That has raised fears that taxpayers’ could be ultimately responsible for covering the costs of cleaning up the site.

An email from CHH said the company has no comment on the issue at this time as it is before the courts.

Furstenau said the Ministry of Environment should have made the decision to have all the contaminated soil removed when the site was closed in 2017.

RELATED STORY: SHAWNIGAN LAKE SKEPTICAL AS CONTAMINATED SOIL STAYS

“This is an unacceptable situation,” Furstenau said.

“The Shawnigan Residents Association and the community identified these possible outcomes as early as 2012. Patterns have developed over the history of this entire affair, including missed deadlines, non-compliance to permits and not meeting conditions set out by successive ministers.”

It’s been two years since the controversial landfill shut down operations when its operating permit was pulled from its owners, CHH and South Island Aggregates, by the province after years of lawsuits and demonstrations.

RELATED STORY: SOIL COMPANIES TO CLOSE SHAWNIGAN CONTAMINATED SOIL QUARRY PERMANENTLY

Earlier this month, Environment Minister George Heyman agreed to CHH’s request to push back the Oct. 31 deadline to have the site prepared for final closure until Aug. 31, 2020.

The extension is intended give the company time to bring in extra fill soil, which is not contaminated, to cap the site, a move opposed by residents who fear the contaminated soil underneath will leach into their water supply and want it all removed as soon as possible.

Cobble Hill Holdings said in its application for the deadline extension that it could not do the necessary work during the winter months.

As for the unpaid taxes and what would happen if the site was forfeited to the province, a statement from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change said the owners would still legally be required to comply with the Spill Prevention Order that was issued for the site, regardless of whether they own the property, “now or in the future”.

The statement said that if the owners forfeit the property, the ministry would still require them to close the site as per the closure plan.

RELATED STORY: SHAWNIGAN LAKE RESIDENTS TAKE TO THE STREETS OVER SOIL

“The province does not become a person responsible for remediation of a site through involuntarily acquisition,” the statement said.

“Failure to comply with any part of the order would be subject to the ministry’s compliance and enforcement policy and procedure, including administrative penalties. Ministry staff will conduct regular onsite and desktop inspections in the coming months to monitor the completion of required activities and submission of required documentation.”

Furstenau said she’ll continue to call Heyman and the government to account on all issues related to the soil dump, including raising questions in this week’s question period in the legislature.

“As I have said before, the contaminated soil should be removed before any other work is done there,” she said.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

UVic students return from Hong Kong amidst growing tension

All eight University of Victoria exchange students have returned to Canada

ICBC, province urge residents to plan ahead for winter weather

Greater Victoria should gear up and have a plan in place

65-million-year-old triceratops makes its debut in Victoria

Dino Lab Inc. is excavating the fossilized remains of a 65-million-year-old dinosaur

Victoria residents face long holds for non-emergency police calls

Victoria police face challenges ‘on many fronts’ since switching to E-Comm call centre

VIDEO: ‘Climate emergency’ is Oxford’s 2019 Word of the Year

Other words on the shortlist included ‘extinction,’ ‘climate denial’ and ‘eco-anxiety’

POLL: Do you plan on making any purchases on Black Friday?

We’ve all seen the images. Shoppers rioting outside of a store in… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Canucks erupt with 5 power-play goals in win over Nashville

Vancouver ends three-game slide with 6-3 triumph over Predators

Nanaimo man caught with more than 200,000 child porn images to be sentenced

Crown says Aaron Macrae recorded video of children on buses and at his workplace

Vancouver Island hunters may have harvested deer in area known for chronic wasting disease

Conservation officers make urgent request to public for any information

B.C. widow suing health authority after ‘untreatable’ superbug killed her husband

New Public Agency Health report puts Canadian death toll at 5,400 in 2018

Changes to B.C. building code address secondary suites, energy efficiency

Housing Minister Selina Robinson says the changes will help create more affordable housing

Most Read