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SIA bid to keep soil appeal info secret from public fails

logoCowichanCitizenSarah Simpson, Cowichan Valley Citizen
October 30, 2013 12:00 AM

The public will be able to see information from South Island Aggregates presented to the Environmental Appeal Board in the case being fought against their contaminated soil dumping permit.

While the South Cowichan company has been permitted by the Ministry of the Environment to dump contaminated soil at a proposed remediation facility in the Shawnigan watershed, the project remains on hold as the CVRD and Shawnigan Residents Association have filed appeals with the Environmental Appeal Board.

On Friday, the appeal board denied an SIA request that information submitted by the company be kept away from the public.

SIA, through their lawyers at Cox Taylor, argued that they didn't want to see their material published on any CVRD or SIA websites, "which comment publicly on the issues surrounding the permit."

"It is my clients' position that it would be inappropriate for the material filed herewith to make its way onto those websites," said a letter dated Oct. 24 and signed by lawyer John Alexander.

The Environmental Appeal Board denied the request.

"Unlike the discovery process, the appeal process is public in nature. Hearings are open to the public, and information provided to the Board by one party must also be provided to all other parties to the appeal. Moreover, once a document is filed with the Board, it is prima facie discloseable to the public," said its chair, Alan Andison.

"The Board's policy on freedom of information and protection of privacy states that 'parties to appeals should be aware that information supplied to the Board is subject to public scrutiny and review'."

The SRA is pleased information will continue to flow to out the masses.

"Everything about this is a public matter. It's our water source that is at stake and any attempt to silence the SRA or any other body or person through the appeal board process is completely and wholeheartedly unacceptable," said SRA Director Calvin Cook.

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