Bill Routley, MLA, questions Minister Mary Polak in the House regarding contaminated soil dumping (Source: Hansard, February 17, 2015)
PERMIT FOR SOIL DUMPING IN
SHAWNIGAN LAKE WATERSHED
B. Routley: In 2013 this Minister of Environment issued a permit to dump five million tonnes of contaminated soil in the Shawnigan Lake watershed, which is the drinking water source for 7,000 people. Local residents have now spent over $1.2 million on legal fees fighting this decision.
Will the Minister of Environment tell this House how much this government has spent to date on its own legal bills to fight the people of Shawnigan Lake who are simply trying to protect their own drinking water?
Hon. M. Polak: I know that the members on the other side are not big fans of process, but let me remind them of the process. Those decisions are made by statutory decision-makers who review criteria that are set out in regulation that has been longstanding. The member will also know that that decision is currently in front of the Environmental Appeal Board, which is the longstanding process. We will await their decision and deal with those matters as the case may be.
Madame Speaker: The member for Cowichan Valley on a supplemental.
B. Routley: This government has put the interests of one business above the Shawnigan Lake community. Local realtors have reported that potential purchasers are nervous about investing in real estate in Shawnigan because of their concerns over safe drinking water.
Will the Minister of Environment do the right thing and cancel this permit to dump contaminated soil, and protect the drinking water of 7,000 people living around Shawnigan Lake?
Hon. M. Polak: I'm sure the member knows that we have in government, and working for governments of all stripes over many years, an incredible civil service in British Columbia. These decisions are made by civil servants.
To suggest that a dedicated civil servant who gets up every day and makes decisions based on the science around what is the best for health and human safety…. To suggest that that civil servant would make the decision based on some connection to some company or other…
Madame Speaker: Members.
Hon. M. Polak: …is absolutely unacceptable.