VICTORIA, B.C. - Sonia Furstenau, B.C. Green Party MLA for Cowichan Valley, issued the following statement in response to the investigation report by the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of BC that found that no conflict of interest occurred in the case of the contaminated soil facility near Shawnigan Lake. Residents of Shawnigan launched the complaint that a conflict of interest occurred as the Active Earth Engineering (AEE) engineers that reviewed the project had an ownership interest in the project proceeding due to a profit-sharing deal with the facility’s operator, South Island Aggregates/Cobble Hill Holdings.
“This report demonstrates the urgent need for reform of the professional reliance model,” said Furstenau. “It is highly disturbing that there is now conflicting information as to whether the Ministry was aware of AEE’s potential ownership interest. I hope that the truth of this matter is uncovered so that we can ensure proper accountability for what happened in Shawnigan.
“This is a perfect example of what needs to change in our government. It is government’s responsibility to ensure that community health and safety is protected when it issues permits. In Shawnigan, the government failed to do this. The community was forced to take on the burden of protecting our own drinking water and of ensuring that those responsible for the contamination were held to account.
“I’m pleased that the Minister recognizes the need for reform of the professional reliance model. I look forward to ensuring that the model is reviewed in a timely manner and that appropriate changes are made so that British Columbians can begin to trust that their government is free of conflict-of-interests in protecting their health and safety.”
Furstenau spearheaded the four-year campaign for accountability over Cobble Hill’s contaminated soil facility that compromised Shawnigan’s drinking water. The permits for the project were finally rescinded in February 2017, the first time in B.C. history that the Ministry of Environment rescinded previously issued permits.
Jillian Oliver, Press Secretary
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