For the people who draw their drinking water from Shawnigan Lake, news that 100,000 tonnes of contaminated soil will remain in the lake’s watershed is devastating.
Local resident Carrie Davies is not only disappointed but angry with the decision.
“It’s disgusting and it’s unfortunate that we have a government that would even allow something like that to happen in the first place,” Davies said.
Resident Nigel Mayes read the government’s report and he believes the decision to allow the contaminated soil to remain on the site at Stebbings Road is misplaced.
“I think that we’ll be regretting that decision in 20 to 30 years to come when Shawnigan Lake is bigger and relies on that water source much more heavily than it does today,” Mayes said.
On Tuesday, the province announced its decision regarding the future of this land and the mountains of contaminated soil on it. It’s located directly south of Shawnigan Lake. The soil will stay, to be buried under 70,000 tonnes of clean soil, and subject to constant environmental monitoring.
But that’s not good enough for many, including local area director, Sierra Acton.
“It will continue to put our drinking water at risk. And as the facility ages, the risk will increase,” Acton said.
But Minister of Environment George Heyman, says he’s comfortable with the decision to keep the soil on site.
“We’ll be monitoring every hour that activity is taking place on that site. We’ll have either ministry staff or professionals that we have retained to do the monitoring to ensure it’s done right,” Heyman said.
Green Party MLA Sonia Furstenau fought the project from the beginning, and couldn’t believe the decision.
“It’s certainly been a very, very hard time getting this news. I said this morning, I feel like I have PTSD,” Furstenau said.
And Acton predicts that protests at the Stebbings Road location are likely in the future.
“We’re just trying to make sense of the permit, and the conditions and what that will mean. And how soon the trucks will be rolling. And I think we’ll be mobilized by then,” Acton said.
Cobble Hill Holdings, the owners and operators of the property, are continuing a legal challenge of the cancellation of their permit in BC Supreme Court.