VICTORIA, B.C. – Sonia Furstenau, B.C. Green Party MLA for Cowichan Valley and spokesperson for environment, introduced a Private Member’s Bill today that would prevent solid waste from being deposited in quarries. In British Columbia, quarries have increasingly been used as waste disposal sites, leading to community health, safety and environmental concerns regarding the possible contamination of local water sources.
“Natural drinking water sources are vitally important to the people who rely on them,” said Furstenau. “Replacing them comes at a significant costs. It is essential that we take these potential costs into consideration when determining appropriate sites for waste disposal.
“In Shawnigan Lake, the community is still dealing with the fallout from contaminated soil being dumped near our drinking water source. This has led to costly legal challenges and a loss of trust in government agencies. Public trust is imperative for ensuring that projects can go ahead uncontested and that people have faith that their government is looking out for their health and safety. This Bill would ensure that solid waste is disposed safely and responsibly at the outset, avoiding conflict down the road.”
The Bill, which would amend the Environmental Management Act, would specifically disallow permits for waste disposal in cases where solid waste would be deposited in sand and gravel pits, limestone and sandstone quarries above a highly sensitive aquifer. Prior to being elected, Furstenau was a community organizer in Shawnigan Lake, where the government granted a permit for a contaminated landfill in an active quarry located at the headwaters of the community’s drinking water shed. The permits were revoked in February 2017. Furstenau will attend a rally on Friday, April 20 to support residents in their call to have the contaminated soil removed from the site.
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