Went up to Shawnigan Lake’s Save Our Water Rally. Here’s the nub of it from Bruce Fraser’s site, www.fraserforshawnigan.ca
Well over 200 Shawnigan residents gathered on March 25th to show their disapproval of the South Island Aggregates proposal to reclaim their rock quarry, located in the headwaters of the Shawnigan watershed, with contaminated soil. What they witnessed was one of the rarest political events ever seen in British Columbia.
The sitting NDP MLA for Cowichan, the nominated candidates of the Liberals, Conservatives and Greens, the elected Area Director for Shawnigan and the Regional District Board are now on public record as rejecting the SIA proposal. This remarkable consensus is made more stunning because it has been crafted on the eve of a provincial election in which the four provincial candidates will be squaring off over the many hot issues that separate their party platforms. All have declared that the threat to the Shawnigan Watershed is a non-partisan issue, a matter of common environmental concern.
What is truly perplexing is that the current provincial government is persisting with formalizing the offending permit, now in draft form, but soon to be allocated in final form. All who have submitted comments to the Ministry of Environment have been given three short weeks to review the conditions of the complex permit but the ministry has indicated that the permit itself is not in question. The Minister of Environment has made it clear that the ministry has a legal obligation to review the SIA application and that he will defer to the technical judgment of staff. The Shawnigan community cannot believe that this also means an obligation to actually allow a contaminated soil facility to be placed in a major drinking water source against universal opposition. They certainly cannot understand how the most senior elected leadership in the province can avoid acting to protect such a crucial resource, clearly the most central responsibility of a Ministry of Environment.
The big story of the SIA project is surely about allowing a corporation to take the lucrative risk of contaminating a community watershed with a brew of industrial chemicals. It is also about dropping such a bomb a few short weeks before a provincial election when a government dissolves and elected leadership lapses. It is most certainly about the rejection of the consensus of every elected and aspiring leader of the Shawnigan community, The Cowichan Regional District and Cowichan provincial riding. This is about to become a spectacular miscarriage of democracy that should make the blood run cold in communities throughout the province. It is a situation that desperately needs to be corrected immediately by the Premier and her Cabinet before the opportunity is lost to create a truly inspiring and creative democratic response to a vulnerable community.
Madame Premier, carpe diem, do the right thing.