Metchosin residents worry illegal dump threatens their drinking water


WATCH: A group of Metchosin residents are worried their drinking water may be affected by years of dumping on an adjacent property. They say its been more like a commercial landfill operation in recent years. The municipality says it is taking their concerns seriously. Mary Griffin reports.

The views are panoramic from the top of Mount Ash in Metchosin. There are clear views of the ocean.

But on one side of the lookout is a property causing concern for local residents, including 30-year resident Mark Atherton.

“When we saw a lot of drywall dumped up here, we said, ah huh. We’ve got to find out what’s going on here and started really advocating for our interests with the district,” Atherton said.

And he’s worried about his drinking water because of what he sees on this property.

“We’re all on wells. Most wells up in this immediate area are over 1,000 feet deep. They produce very little water. It all comes out of an aquifer, called Aquifer 606. Which is very susceptible to contamination because of the nature of the aquifer,” Atherton said.

Troy DeSouza, who represents the District of Metchosin, the aid the district recently applied to a provincial court judge for access to test soil and water samples from the property at 5315 La Bonne Road.

“This is the first time we’ve seen any municipality engage with this type of process on groundwater contamination,” DeSouza said.

Earlier this year, a provincial court approved a permit, so the District of Metchosin can carry out tests on the privately owned property’s soil and water, a first in B.C..  DeSouza says the challenge now is to find out if excessive dumping leached into the groundwater.
“What has to happen is that in order to determine if there is contamination, you have to get confirmation or evidence. And that has to be admissible to the courts. That’s what has happened here,” DeSouza said.

A marijuana grow-op is also a concern for residents worried about pesticide use. La Bonne Road resident Nicole Shukin said they just want the property on La Bonne Road cleaned up.

“This property owner has gotten away with basically no fines for the past five or so years. So we’re heartened to see that, hopefully, a lawyer is involved and will help to prosecute,” Shukin said.

Results from the testing will take several weeks.

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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