Green Party MLA Sonia Furstenau has introduced a private member’s bill that would ban solid waste from being deposited in quarries. This comes as the community of Shawnigan Lake still waits for contaminated waste to removed from a quarry upstream from the lake.
“Natural drinking water sources are vitally important to the people who rely on them,” said Furstenau. “Replacing them comes at a significant costs. It is essential that we take these potential costs into consideration when determining appropriate sites for waste disposal.”
WATCH HERE: Shawnigan Lake residents win fight against tainted soil dump
Furstenau is concerned that quarries are increasingly being used as waste disposal sites, leading to community health, safety and environmental concerns regarding the possible contamination of local water sources. In February, 2017 the previous government cancelled the waste discharge permit that allowed Cobble Hill Holdings Ltd. to receive and store contaminated soil near Shawnigan Lake. The company had received a permit in 2015 to turn the area into a dump site that would allow them to truck in 100,000 tonnes of contaminated soil per year.
“In Shawnigan Lake, the community is still dealing with the fallout from contaminated soil being dumped near our drinking water source. This has led to costly legal challenges and a loss of trust in government agencies,” said Furstenau. “This bill would ensure that solid waste is disposed safely and responsibly at the outset, avoiding conflict down the road.”
WATCH HERE: Community fights plans for Shawnigan Lake quarry
The amended proposed by the Green party to the Environmental Management Act would disallow permits for waste disposal in cases where solid waste would be deposited in sand and gravel pits, limestone and sandstone quarries above a highly sensitive aquifer. The issue is deeply personal to Furstenau, who served as a local politician in Shawnigan Lake before she entered provincial politics.
Residents near the quarry are hosting a rally on Friday to call to have the contaminated soil removed from the site.