After weeks of documenting non-compliance at the South Island Aggregates (SIA) site, located in the Shawnigan Lake Designated Community Watershed, the citizens of Shawnigan have decided to show to BC and Canada what is happening in our community.
Sponsored by the Save Shawnigan Water Community Action Group, West Coast Helicopter flights will be provided throughout the day to politicians and media so that they can see from above the impact of the SIA site, as well as its proximity to both Shawnigan Lake and Sooke Lake, which together are drinking water sources for hundreds of thousands of people.
NDP Leader John Horgan and BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver will both be taking flights today, as well as Victoria City Councillors Jeremy Loveday and Ben Isitt. and Esquimalt Councillor Olga Liberchuk.
Ardent supporter of Shawnigan Lake and children's performer Raffi will be participating in the event, as well as leading a sing-along of his new song, Beautiful Shawnigan Lake.
Shawnigan residents have been steadfast in their opposition to the contaminated landfill at the SIA site, which has a permit from the BC Ministry of Environment to accept 100,000 tonnes of contaminated soil per year for fifty years. The site is also an active quarry, and has a permit from Ministry of Energy and Mines to continue blasting at the site where the dumping is happening. Currently the site is operated by South Island Resource Management (SIRM)/Allterra Construction.
Incidents of non-compliance include a significant water breach from the site on November 13th, discharge of water that does not meet Drinking Water and Aquatic Life Water Guidelines, and considerable airshed pollution over a period of several weeks from cement and fly ash dust being blasted into the contaminated soil at the site. Dust suppression is a requirement of the Permit issued by Ministry of Environment.
Shawnigan Lake Director Sonia Furstenau explains the growing frustration in the community: "Environment Minister Polak claims that the Ministry requires strict adherence to the permit conditions at the SIA site. Yet, over the last several weeks, Ministry staff have been provided with video and photo evidence of billowing clouds of cement and fly ash floating hundreds of meters from the site, and the ministry takes no action. Either her staff are not reporting to her what's happening at this site, or she is choosing not to act. Either way, contaminates from that dust are getting into our watershed."
Today's events have been coordinated by dozens of volunteers from the Shawnigan community, including Netta Douglas, who has been hearing from people across the country. "As we've become more vocal and our voices are heard, communities across Canada are sharing their stories with us about water safety and quality issues, and sharing with us their frustration with all levels of government on this issue. As Canadians, we need to recognize the absolute value of drinking water for our communities, and ensure that all levels of government are acting to protect water for all future generations."
The Shawnigan Lake community once again calls on the Ministry of Environment to do the right thing and suspend all activities at the SIA/SIRM site immediately. The protection of drinking water needs to be the highest priority of the BC government.
For more information:
www.soniafurstenau.ca and www.thesra.ca
"Stand Up For Shawnigan" Media Event
Wednesday, January 6, 2016
9am-3pm, Stebbings Rd
Visual Site Tours via Helicopter
On Wednesday, January 6th between 9 am and 3 pm, the#SaveShawniganWater Community Action Group has arranged to provide aerial tours by helicopter from Shawnigan Village to the south end of Shawnigan Lake. Politicians and members of the media will be invited to see the SIA contaminated landfill site from above, as well as get an aerial view of both Sooke and Shawnigan Lakes. Flights will be leaving Shawnigan Village every 30 minutes.
The Shawnigan Watershed Office at 1760 Shawnigan-Mill Bay Road will serve as the meeting point and waiting area for people who will be taking the helicopter rides. There will be local experts and members of the Shawnigan Basin Society and Shawnigan Residents Association on hand to answer questions about the Shawnigan watershed and the work being done in the community to protect our water. We will also have a variety of documents available related to history of the SIA contaminated landfill.
SIA Site Perimeter Tours
The #SaveShawniganWater Community Action Group will also be providing on-the-ground perimeter tours of the SIA site through the adjacent CVRD Park. If you would like to come on the tour, you will need sturdy walking shoes or boots and warm clothing. Tours will be departing on the hour between 9 and 3 from 360 Stebbings Road (approximately 500 m west of the SIA site).
If you are interested in more information about #SaveShawniganWater or would like to reserve a seat for the helicopter tour on January 6th, please contact:
Sonia Furstenau, Area Director
Please note that seating is limited so if you would like to participate, please get in touch asap.