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Victoria chapter seeks to protect Shawnigan Lake & Thetis Lake from toxic dumps

Victoria chapter
Photo: The protest outside the Environmental Appeal Board hearing yesterday.

Yesterday, the Council of Canadians Victoria chapter protested outside an Environmental Appeal Board hearing to demand that the British Columbia Ministry of the Environment reverse its decision to grant South Island Aggregates a permit to dump toxic soil near the Shawnigan Lake watershed. Council of Canadians chapter activist Ted Woynillowicz was interviewed by CHEK News & Island CTV.

Shawnigan Lake is located about 48 kilometres north of Victoria in the Cowichan Valley Regional District.

Thetis Lake
Photo: The main beach at Thetis Lake, located about 12 kilometres from downtown Victoria.

Victoria city councillor Ben Isitt wrote last April, “A battle is underway in the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) over a proposed contaminated soil facility within the Shawnigan Lake drinking watershed. On one side, we see Shawnigan Lake residents united with the CVRD board in requesting that the BC provincial government decline a permit for the toxic soil dump. On the other side, we see a company and sections of the development community lobbying intensely to dispose of construction waste, largely from Greater Victoria, with little consideration of the long-term ecological impacts. …South Island Aggregates Ltd. proposes to dispose of 100,000 tons per year of contaminated soil at its quarry on a hillside south of Shawnigan Lake.”

A Shawnigan Residents’ Association media release from yesterday notes, “The Highlands Residents for Clean Water … are adding their support to the Shawnigan Residents Association’s battle to preserve their watershed from a contaminated soil facility permit approved by the Ministry of Environment that may dangerously affect the quality of drinking water in their community. Similarly, Highlands residents are concerned that harm may be done to the local watershed including Thetis Lake and underlying aquifer through the land filling of contaminated dredgate from the Esquimalt Graving Dock remediation project.”

A federal government media release from March 2013 says, “The Esquimalt Graving Dock has been used for the repair and maintenance of military and civilian vessels since 1927. Decades of work at the dock have contributed to sediment contamination in the seabed around the facility. …(The federal government has awarded) a $38.6‑million contract to Tervita Corporation for the remediation of the Esquimalt Graving Dock water lot.” At yesterday’s protest, Woynillowicz held a sign that reads, “Don’t allow Thetis Lake to become a toxic slew. Ban the dumping of contaminated dredgate into the local watershed!” Highlands Residents for Clean Water also want an independent review of the Tervita site to determine its impact on the quality of Highlands’ groundwater over the long term.

The appeal hearings on the South Island Aggregates permit are expected to take several weeks.