Shawnigan Lake Residents say government soil sample results only scratch the surface
It was a heated meeting in Shawnigan Lake Thursday night, as a large crowd gathered to hear the Ministry of Environment’s findings on soil samples taken on the South Island Aggregates Site, known as Lot 21, in Shawnigan Lake.
“We took surface samples and took samples down to half a metre in depth. Based on that information, there really wasn’t any additional compelling reasons to go any deeper,” said Jennifer McGuire, an executive director with the Ministry of Environment.
The ministry said its tests show all surface water results meet B.C. water quality guidelines.
But Oak Bay – Gordon Head MLA and environmental scientist Andrew Weaver said the samples collected on the surface did not go deep enough.
“It is relatively easy to put a half of metre of top soil on top of stuff below. A thorough environmental assessment includes analysis of what’s been put down deeper down,” Weaver said.
He took matters into his own hands, conducting his own sediment analysis back in May.
” I asked the question what is coming out of Lot 21 and I took samples in a runoff off immediately downstream of Lot 21 before Shawnigan Creek,” he said.
“There’s very high elevations of heavy metals and many of these metals are not occurring naturally.”
Weaver presented his findings at the meeting and had one question for the ministry.
“What is under the surface in Lot 21 and what is buried down there to produce those results that I found?” he asked.
The Environment Ministry said it will review Weaver’s data and then determine if further testing is needed.
But Shawnigan Lake residents are vowing not to give up the fight.
“There is 250 feet of fill on Lot 21 and they took it up on the top half metre. So did they find very much? No they didn’t,” said Cowichan Valley Regional District Area Director Sonia Furstenau.
“Does that gives us any sense of safety in this community? No it doesn’t,” she said.
Shawnigan Lake resident Lori Treloar said she is disappointed the government’s results only scratched the surface.
“We know for certain there’s contaminants in there that are far more serious than what they’ve admitted tonight,” Treloar said.