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Shawnigan unites with pens in hand

dwightlettersStudents of Dwight School and area residents teamed up recently in a letter-writing campaign against the SIA soil dump proposal.— Image Credit: Courtesy Sonia Furstenau

by John McKinley - Cowichan News Leader Pictorial 
posted Mar 10, 2014 at 2:00 PM 

There may be at least one positive to Shawnigan Lake soil dump controversy.

It seems to be bringing some people closer together.

On March 4, Shawnigan area residents gathered on the campus of Dwight School Canada to pen more than 100 letters to the provincial government to voice their concerns.

Those taking part are concerned the proposal to dump and treat five million tonnes of contaminated soil at South Island Aggregates site on Stebbings Road poses a threat to the lake.

Organizer and Dwight history teacher Sonia Furstenau provided a few samples of the thoughts shared:

"This is a matter that keeps me lying awake at night wondering how I can contribute to the preservation of this lake as a 17-year-old," one student wrote.

"As a community, we should not be forced to assume responsibility for a situation that has come up as a convenient opportunity for other communities, nor should the needs of the many suffer for the financial gain of a business standing to add extra profit from an already lucrative project," an area resident added.

Letter writers also urged the government to listen to the people and work with the CVRD to find alternative site.

According to Furstenau, Shawnigan's two international schools are in particular danger of economic harm from the contaminated soil site, as they recruit students from all over the world based partly on the perception of Shawnigan Lake being a healthy environment for young people.

The group also extended an invitation to members of the provincial cabinet to come to Dwight to speak to the concerns directly.

Meanwhile, the Leora Nugent family has pledged to match donations to help the Shawnigan Residents Association's legal battle against the soil dump dollar-for-dollar to a maximum of $10,000.

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