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)

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

Duncan Christian Chargers third at Islands

The Duncan Christian School Chargers senior boys volleyball team wrapped up their… Continue reading

Lake Flashback: Tragedy strikes the Lake, RCMP call in Sikorsky chopper, and thieves leave their tools behind

Three accidental deaths in one grim week, and air crane required to save fish from wrecked truck

VIDEO: Lake Cowichan fire department celebrates long service

The annual event sees several earn awards as well as the retirement of Ray Bourassa after 30 years

Hal Kerbes back in Chemainus for a favourite holiday blockbuster

Veteran actor comes out of retirement to play Kris Kringle and make us believe in Santa Claus

’Tis the season for holiday cheer with a Ken Lavigne Christmas

Enjoy the magic of the season with the region’s largest indoor snowball fight

VIDEO: B.C. to restrict nicotine content, bring in 20% tax on vaping products

Province will also restrict candy and fruit flavoured vaping products to adult-only stores

Seguin lifts surging Stars to 4-2 win over Canucks

Dallas is 6-0-1 in last seven outings

‘City that protects rapists’: Sexual assault survivor slams Kelowna mayor for defending RCMP

Heather Friesen spent the morning handing out flyers around city hall calling out the mayor

Batten down the hatches: Wet and windy weekend on the way for coastal B.C.

Environment Canada issues special weather warning for Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island

BC Liquor Stores to move fully to paper bags by March

Vancouver Island to be the first to convert to paper bags in November

Tolko shuts B.C. divisions for two weeks over holidays

Head office to close from Dec. 23-27; two weeks’ downtime runs Dec. 21-Jan. 6

B.C. government working with RCMP to address $10 million in budget cuts

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth issues statement following report of RCMP cost-cutting

Port Moody mayor says stayed sex assault charge related to ‘awkward date’

Rob Vagramov said charge was related to a string of dates in 2015

UBC conference draws fire over speaker from Chinese tech company blacklisted in U.S.

The company that has been blacklisted by the U.S. over links to the repression of China’s Muslim minority

Most Read