WATCH: The BC Supreme Court ruled the owner and operator of the site are in violation of a regional zoning bylaw. Monica Martinez has the details.
It’s a celebratory mood in Shawnigan Lake, as people toast a major court victory.
“I am thrilled. I’ve had shivers all day, it’s incredibly good news,” said Shawnigan Lake resident Ocean Kneeland.
Elijah Fraser said it’s fantastic news. “It’s a great celebration. It’s been a long fight over the last 14 years,” he said.
Water activist and Shawnigan Lake resident Georgia Collins said she is elated. “I’m over the moon. It’s the best day of my life,” she said.
The B.C. Supreme Court ruled the owner and operator of the contaminated soil dump site near Shawnigan Lake were in contravention of the zoning bylaw.
The site is zoned for mining, but not for treating contaminated soil nor as a landfill. This means the company can continue to operate the site, but they can no longer accept new material.
“The Cowichan Valley Regional District won its case today so it’s a huge victory for the CVRD but it’s a huge victory for the Shawnigan community,” said Cowichan Valley Regional District Director Sonia Furstenau.
The operator of the site, South Island Resource Management, says they are complying with the decision.
They say they will continue to operate the site as a mine and manage the materials already there.
But B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver said this likely means they will have to shut down.
“All things are pointing to the fact that this facility is going to have to move and that this is not going to continue forward,” he said.
The land owner, Cobble Hill Holdings, is considering appealing the decision.
The Ministry of Environment said it needs to review the ruling before further commenting.
People in Shawnigan Lake said the timing of Monday’s news couldn’t be better, as Tuesday people around the world get ready to celebrate World Water Day.
There is still another case before the B.C. Supreme Court. The Shawnigan Lake Residents Association are appealing a permit granted by the Ministry of Environment to land owner, Cobble Hill Holdings. The trial began in January and lasted three weeks. No word yet on when that ruling will be handed down.