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LETTER: Spreading biosolids would put region’s environmental health at risk

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(Courtesy of GHD/Long-Term Biosolids Beneficial Use Option Analysis)

In light of Saanich’s history as an environmental leader in the fight against the land application of biosolids, I have to ask why, in all recent CRD debates and votes, Saanich has now become the region’s strongest champion in favour of spreading biosolids in the CRD?

Why is it that in every recent CRD vote on this important public health and environmental topic, all Saanich members on the CRD board – Mayor Murdock, CRD Chair Colin Plant, Zac de Vries, Susan Brice and Judy Brownoff – have voted in favour of the land application of biosolids in the CRD and/or removing the long-standing and popular ban on land application in our region?

As a Saanich resident who has spent much time researching this important public health and environmental issue and spoken with Saanich residents, farmers, businesses as well as First Nation Band members to seek their views and opinions on the matter, I can share I’ve never once come across anyone in our community in favour of land application other than our representatives on the CRD. What public mandate do Saanich directors have to continually and consistently vote in favour of the land application of biosolids? Exactly whose voices are they representing, if not those of Saanich residents and farmers?

A 2023 peer-reviewed publication from The Journal of Environmental Health titled “Emerging environmental health risks associated with the land application of biosolids concludes: “As a society, if we fail to take definite policy actions to modernize environmental standards that pertain to the land application of biosolids, and continue to land apply layer upon layer of these complex mixtures of pollutants to our soil without adequate public health protections in place, and without regard to the long-term environmental consequences, we may potentially cause irreversible damage to the very soils we use to grow our food and to our surface and groundwater that sustain life.”

If Saanich CRD reps are ever successful in actually overturning the popular CRD ban on the land application of biosolids, where exactly in Saanich would council propose the CRD apply biosolids? Would it be Pkols/Mt. Douglas? Around Elk and Beaver Lake? Mt. Work? Our local farms?

I’d like to emphasize that these are not rhetorical questions: Saanich residents and farmers deserve to know why Saanich councillors/CRD representatives keep voting in favour of placing the public health of residents and the environmental health of our region in peril, and we all look forward to your public response.

Philippe Lucas

Saanich

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