PERMIT FOR SOIL DUMPING IN
SHAWNIGAN LAKE WATERSHED
monDAY, november 16, 2015
B. Routley: The groundwater control design at Shawnigan Lake contaminated soil dump has clearly failed. A mystery creek has now showed up right under the contaminated soil dump, and my constituents have been told not to drink the water.
Madame Speaker: Excuse me, Member. I will hear the question. Please proceed.
B. Routley: There is another storm on the way, the second of many that will hit the coast this winter, and residents now live in fear of their own drinking water supply being totally compromised. Their trust has been broken.
At an absolute minimum, will the Minister of Environment commit today to shut down the contaminated soil dump while these design flaws are fully and properly investigated?
Hon. M. Polak: The member references the facility being in failure. I can tell the House that there
HSE – 20151116 PM 010/kaw/1415
Hon. M. Polak: The member references the facility being in failure. I can tell the House that there is absolutely no evidence of a breach. None. In fact, when….
Madame Speaker: Minister, please proceed.
Hon. M. Polak: It is always difficult to deal with permits in the Ministry of Environment that handle materials that are not welcome in our backyards. But it is necessary to ensure that we do have safe places to deal with contaminated materials so as to ensure that they are not dumped illegally and in unsafe places.
Madame Speaker: Members.
Members will come to order.
Hon. M. Polak: And so permits of this nature are issued not by politicians; they are issued by those who have the scientific expertise in order to make those decisions.
Compliance and enforcement recommendations are also made by independent scientists who do not get directed by the Minister of Environment. If the members wish to substitute their political judgment for the scientific judgment of those with expertise, maybe they should make that claim.
Madame Speaker: The member for Cowichan Valley on a supplemental.
B. Routley: With non-answers to these questions, I’m surprised that this government could even manage a two-door outhouse.
Madame Speaker: Member.
B. Routley: When you look at…
Madame Speaker: Member.
B. Routley: …what’s going on here, they certainly can’t be managing a contaminated soil dump.
Between the Shawnigan Residents Association and the Cowichan Valley regional district, my constituents have now paid more than $1 million in legal fees in an attempt to protect their own drinking water. They find themselves in the bizarre position of using their hard-earned money to hire lawyers to fight for the right that this government ought to be safeguarding for them, and that’s the right to clean drinking water.
The minister is well aware that she and the Environmental Appeal Board have been lied to. And she has done nothing.
Madame Speaker: Member, please pose your question.
B. Routley: Why does this government continue to abandon our communities and force them to fight for a resource that she is duty-bound to protect?
Hon. M. Polak: The members of the staff of the Ministry of Health and the members of the staff of the Ministry of Environment dedicate their entire careers to working to ensure that public health is kept safe, that the environment is kept safe.
These people have the expertise, but they also feel the heavy obligation to ensure that those careers matter, to make sure that they are doing their part in upholding their obligations for British Columbians across this province. They do that each and every day. They do that independent of political interference. That is the way it should be.
Now, I have advised the House with respect to the testing that is ongoing. I have advised the House that at this stage, the half or so samples that we have received back, in terms of results, show no public health threat. We have additional samples coming back.
As with any circumstance, if there is a threat to public health found, we act. If there are non-compliances in terms of a permit, we act. We will do so in this case.
I will simply finish with the quote again from the medical health officer which says: “As we get results back, we will determine whether anything happened at all.”
DEBATES OF THE
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2015
PERMIT FOR SOIL DUMPING IN
SHAWNIGAN LAKE WATERSHED
B. Routley: Yesterday we asked the Minister of Environment whether she would address the concerns of Shawnigan Lake residents and suspend the dumping of contaminated soil at South Island Aggregates. She refused.
Today we learn that the latest storm has caused yet another failure at the South Island Aggregates contaminated soil dump. We are now hearing reports from local residents that one of the soil cells at the facility has breached, and now we have pumping, sandbagging and more testing underway.
Yesterday the minister said we were sowing panic. The reality is that the minister’s indifference to the events on the ground is creating real fear for my constituents. Will the minister today take steps to stop the dumping of South Island Aggregates at the contaminated soil dump and fully address residents’ concerns about their drinking water supply?
Hon. M. Polak: First, let me remind all members of this House that decisions with respect to granting of permits are made by government scientists free from interference by those in the political sphere. In addition to that, recommendations to the minister with respect to any compliance or enforcement action are also made by government scientists independent of political interference.
But with respect to the conditions surrounding the facility, I have now been provided with the complete range of samples and the results from those samples from the first rain incident. I think this is enlightening with respect to the comparison of these results and, of course, the language we were hearing in question period yesterday.
Parameters that were analyzed…. I won’t go on at length. We can provide more detail, if the members wish, after question period. There was testing for total suspended solids, pH, metals, chloride, sulphate and hydrocarbons. Those results were compared to the B.C. and Health Canada drinking water guidelines as well as the guidelines for protection of aquatic life.
The results, I’m pleased to advise, are within applicable guidelines and do not oppose a risk to aquatic life or human health. The only slightly elevated levels were for parameters that do not affect health or the environment but only affect those things such as taste or laundry staining.
We’ll be providing those results — or have provided them — to Vancouver Island Health this morning and will be working with them to communicate those results.
JHorgan: Last August the B.C. government gave a permit to South Island Aggregates, a 50-year permit, to receive over 100,000 tonnes annually of toxic, contaminated soils just above the drinking water supply for 12,000 British Columbians. Throughout the debate around this issue, through judicial review, through appeals to the appeal board, the government has steadfastly maintained that they were protecting the interests of the people of Shawnigan Lake, that they were protecting the water within Shawnigan Lake and that there was nothing to worry about. Sadly, the worst fears of the residents of Shawnigan Lake were realized on Friday, when the Ministry of Health, through the the appeal board, the government has steadfastly maintained that they were protecting the interests of the people of Shawnigan Lake, they were protecting the water within Shawnigan Lake, and there was nothing to worry about.
Sadly, the worst fears of the residents of Shawnigan Lake were realized on Friday when the Ministry of Health, through the Island health authority, issued a “do not use” water advisory for those living and taking water on the south end of Shawnigan Lake.
My question is to the Minister of Environment. After years of being approached by residents, whether they be elected representatives, regular citizens or former Liberal candidates, the response has always been: “Do not worry. We’re here to protect you.” Until it rains. As you well know, we live in a rainforest. The first rain in the 50-year permit led to a no-use advisory for the people in the region.
Can the minister now do the right thing, stop the movement of contaminated soils into the Shawnigan watershed and do it today?
What a powerful moment it is to look up in the gallery today and see Mohamed Fahmy and his courageous wife, Marwa Omara. This province, this country and the world now know their story. Mohamed Fahmy, an award-winning Canadian journalist, spent 430 days in an infamous Cairo prison for simply doing his job, doing what we, in this place, take for granted — 438 days of not knowing his fate, locked up with convicted extremists, all the time with a serious injury for which he did not receive critical care.
Mohamed was jailed after a mock trial that was denounced as a travesty of justice around the world. Throughout it all his fiancée, Marwa, now his wife, stood by his side and became the public spokesperson for a global campaign to free him that eventually brought them to this place.
What is also so moving about this story is that at the same time that Mohamed was fighting for his own freedom, he created the Fahmy Foundation for a Free Press to bring the plight of other imprisoned journalists to public attention and to campaign for their freedom.
This has, indeed, been a family affair for Mohamed and Marwa. They’ve come through it all together, and they are now building a wonderful new life together here in B.C.
own freedom, he created the Fahmy Foundation for a Free Press to bring the plight of other imprisoned journalists to public attention and to campaign for their freedom.
This has indeed been a family affair for Mohamed and Marwa. They’ve come through it all together, and they are now building a wonderful new life together here in B.C., relishing their new-found freedom, exploring the parks and beaches and streets of Vancouver, the city they now call home. Mohamed is sharing his experiences as a journalist in residence and visiting fellow at UBC’s Global Reporting Centre, and he’ll also be doing that here today.
Mohamed’s and Marwa’s story is one of incredible courage. It reminds us how central press freedom is to a free, democratic and open society. I know we all join together and are deeply honoured to welcome them to this Legislature today.
B. Routley: I was moved by much of what the previous speaker talked about with his health issues. I’m glad that he’s back in the saddle again.
I also agree with him that we want real communities in British Columbia, not a bunch of camps. We want real communities with real families earning a living in northern British Columbia, so you’re right on with that one as well. But there are some things….
You know, I’ve heard some of the speakers in here suggest that we in the NDP don’t support LNG. We support LNG. We just have a more focused, reasonable plan — one that protects the people of British Columbia, makes sure that we talk about the environment, that we protect our people, we protect our community. That’s what it should all be about, not about just playing games.
What is extremely concerning to me now is that what we’re hearing is a complete reversal. This government has now completely softened their approach. They’ve gone from “Oh, sugar plums, and it’s going to be wonderful days ahead” to now, “Well, not so much. It’s just a chance now, just a chance.” Well, we should be pretty alarmed about “just a chance,” but I would say that this is as close as it gets to a full admission by this Liberal government of election jiggery-pokery.
There’s lots of verbose bafflegab and just a whole lot more jiggery-pokery. It’s hard to take this Premier at her word anymore. She knows what to say, but then she does what she wants. She’s backed down on every major commitment she’s said about LNG. The throne speech was completely devoid of the 100,000 jobs she promised.
They have abandoned mentioning eliminating the provincial debt. Oh, it’s just a chance now. There was the magical prosperity fund — gone, vanished like yesterday’s news — and I suspect there won’t be any real action on a carbon reduction plan at all. Remember the promise was that B.C. would have the cleanest LNG facilities in the world.
You know, hon. Speaker, the one thing we can agree on is that we may need more skilled workers. But they should be free workers — free of the label of being a temporary foreign worker, free of being controlled and manipulated by one company, free of being manipulated by the boss and under the boss’s thumb. They’ve got to have the right, working people in British Columbia, to stand up and be free in their workplace.
You know, this government’s plan in just running off to federal governments and saying: “Bring on more foreign workers….” That means we’re going to have no action by this government to protect the workers, just more of the same. Take them, use them up and throw them away like yesterday’s news.
The Premier promised to eliminate the debt, the provincial sales tax and more, but now I question these Liberals. Are they really in secret negotiations with Petronas? We heard the Premier talk about 15 others. They’re in negotiations, and yet they are still unready to unveil their plan.
[Madame Speaker in the chair.]
So they’re in a tight spot. I would suggest that they’ve been negotiating by leading with their chin, because you don’t go into bargaining telling the world all of the money you’re going to spend when you haven’t even got a plan — no taxation plan, nothing to really unveil.
You know, by starting bargaining claiming you know the results — that is an absolute failure. Bargaining 101 tells you that you don’t lead by saying what the end result is going to be. Can you imagine? Now, let’s use this example for just a minute. Can you imagine if I bargained that way when I acted and represented thousands of forest workers in the forest industry for more than 50 different companies?
Imagine if I’d said to the workers: “Brothers and sisters, you can vote for me, and I will bring you in bargaining a prosperity fund so large that we can have a pony in every yard and a Mustang in every driveway. Vote for me, and I will invite you to the jobs and prosperity fund that I will create for you, a magical mystery tour beyond your wildest dreams. Not only will you be debt-free, brothers and sisters; soon you will no longer have to pay any taxes either. So how do you like me so far?”
That’s what we were witness to — that kind of nonsense. Inevitably, the reality has come home to roost, and now they’re under the boss’s thumb getting their instructions — awaiting their instructions, I would suggest. When you think back to the Liberal spin doctors drumming up all these visions of sugar plums, they could have gone even further.
Just think of this. You could have really had fun. You might as well dream big or go home. And if you’re dreaming big, why wouldn’t you announce that with the prosperity fund, there’s so much cash that we can’t even take the time to count it? We’re going to just stuff some of the cash down in a room in the basement in the Legislature. We’ll have so much overflow cash from the prosperity fund that, for a small fee, British Columbians can go into the Legislature and just throw the cash around for a while. Or they can turn on a big fan and have a bit of a rinse in all of the cash, just roll around and have it blow all over you. Wow, what wonderful fun.
Now, there’s an election platform you could get working people all wrapped up in with one nice little bow, but remember
Madame Speaker: Hon. Member, noting the hour.
B. Routley: Hon. Speaker, I’d like to reserve my right to come back and speak tomorrow.
Cowichan Valley Citizen link here: http://www.cowichanvalleycitizen.com/news/mom-scrambles-for-funds-before-operation-1.1426881
A Cobble Hill wife and mother has fallen through holes in the province’s health safety net, leaving family and friends scrambling to find $25,000 so she can qualify get a life-saving operation.
Tami Walker needs a double lung transplant. The 47-year-old woman is suffering from thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension, a chronic condition that involves a build-up of blood clots in her lungs.
She requires a 24-hour intravenous infusion to survive until a transplant, but right now, everything is hanging on meeting the financial qualifications for that.
“Tami and I are hard-working people who have always paid our own way but now the crunch has come,” her husband, Norm, said. “I can’t work because of looking after Tami. She cannot work a bit. And we’re still raising kids.
“The bottom line is she needs the surgery but there’s no avenue we can go to any more.”
Their whole nightmare began three years ago when she started passing out, Norm said.
Trips to Victoria, Vancouver and even Toronto for diagnosis and treatment saw doctors finally realize her lungs were plugged with blood clots, he said, explaining that the crippling expenses of seeking treatment has caused him and his wife to lose their home and go through bankruptcy.
When in February she started collapsing again, Tami was placed on an intravenous line that pumps medication into her lungs constantly.
“They gave her a year on this machine as a temporary measure prior to getting the lung transplants,” he said.
That was where the second problem began.
If Tami is to be approved to go to Vancouver for a transplant, she and Norm must have $25,000 in an account to show they can afford her after-care.
“She has to have a caregiver with her 24/7 when she’s over in Vancouver for between three and six months after the surgery.
“If you are on welfare and you’re broke, they’ll pay for everything. The problem comes if you’re a person that’s got a home, that’s got three kids and you’re trying to survive over here on a payday-to-payday basis because you’re on a pension.”
Norm said he and Tami were stunned when an official suggested they move to Vancouver with their daughter while the two older boys stayed on the Island.
“We’ve already lost our house over it. She needs her family with her. We’ve been going through the channels. But, day before yesterday I got a phone call from the social assistance lady who said: ‘You fall between the cracks.’ The equipment that’s keeping Tami going is starting to fail, too.
“We were hoping this machine would work a lot longer but it’s not. Tami’s starting to go downhill.”
Now, some friends like have started fundraisers.
Greg and Peggy Hunt have set up a trust account at the Island Savings Credit Union. Donations can go to account # 2381960. Another option is to visit Youcaring.com and make a donation at “Help Tami get a Double lung transplant”.
The Walkers also contacted Cowichan Valley MLA Bill Routley for help.
“I ended up in tears here about this situation. I’ve never heard of such a thing,” Routley said.
“So I uncorked in the Legislature on the subject and asked: How can we hold our heads up with this going on? To have a mom with three kids saying, ‘Just let me go?’ And Norm is just devastated that he can’t help her. What person with a family doesn’t feel for that kind of situation?” The first response was speedy, according to Routley’s assistant, Doug Morgan.
“Bill made a passionate speech – he blew the House away – and there were tears and everything. The minute he stepped down, I got a call from a minister’s assistant saying, ‘Doug, send me everything you’ve got. I’m going to look into this personally for you.’”
- See more at: http://www.cowichanvalleycitizen.com/news/mom-scrambles-for-funds-before-operation-1.1426881#sthash.jAQccRYU.dpuf
VICTORIA – New Democrat education spokesperson Rob Fleming released the following statement on the breakdown of talks in the education dispute:
“With just two days left before the start of school, it is clear Education Minister Peter Fassbender has utterly failed kids and families in B.C. Either he should admit he is not up to the task and step down, or Premier Clark should remove him.
“The Minister has delayed and obstructed talks with teachers all summer. Despite saying repeatedly the government is willing to be at the bargaining table 24/7, instead he squandered the entire summer, making no progress, denying mediation would work, making no moves to improve classroom conditions, and refusing to come to the table this week ready to get a deal.
“There has been no indication Minister Fassbender is prepared to negotiate sincerely on critical classroom issues. His lead negotiator admits the government refuses to negotiate on class size and composition – an issue that parents know affects all our children’s ability to be successful in school – until teachers give in to the government’s position on wages and benefits. This approach fails to acknowledge that for mediation to be successful, everything has to be on the table.
“Instead of putting real effort towards reaching a deal to get our kids back in classrooms, Minister Fassbender has put his efforts towards deploying a cynical plan to spend tax dollars intended for the classroom to buy off parents with a cheque for $40 a day while the impasse continues. Minister Fassbender has badly misread the situation, and has only hurt the chances of resolving the dispute.
“Like hundreds of thousands of other B.C. parents with kids in the public school system, my family should be spending this last weekend of summer getting ready for the first day of school. Minister Fassbender’s failure means instead that parents are scrambling to figure out what to do, and are frustrated and worried about their children’s future. Clearly he is not capable of overseeing B.C.’s education system.”
Horgan writes open letter to Premier Clark on B.C. education dispute
VICTORIA – New Democrat leader John Horgan has written an open letter to Premier Christy Clark on the prolonged education dispute. In the letter, Horgan expresses disappointment with the government’s failed approach to date, and urges the premier to directly involve herself in the negotiations, and to set a new tone that respects teachers and our public education system.
The full letter is attached as a PDF, and the text is copied below:
September 1, 2014
Dear Premier Clark:
Parents across our province have already paid a huge price for your government’s failure to resolve the labour dispute in our public education system. Our children deserve the quality public education the government is responsible for delivering, and parents deserve an end to the stress and uncertainty caused by the disruption. The prolonged dispute is hurting our teaching professionals – a job that deserves respect and support from all parties and members of the legislature and governments of every stripe.
My colleague, Rob Fleming, yesterday called publicly for your education minister to be relieved of his duties as it has become clear Mr. Fassbender is not capable of doing his job of providing public education to all British Columbians. He delayed and obstructed negotiations all summer, denied mediation would work, publicly provoked teachers while mediator
Vince Ready finally did meet with both sides, and has been unwilling to negotiate on the vital issue of class size and composition.
It was disappointing to hear this morning that you continue to place your full confidence in Mr. Fassbender. Your continued absence throughout this crisis shows a lack of leadership when British Columbians need it most. Parents, kids, and teachers deserve more from their premier than a series of tweets meant to further inflame the situation and point fingers at teachers. They deserve action towards a real resolution that gets kids back in classrooms and improves the quality of education delivered in our public schools.
British Columbians watched as you proudly proclaimed your involvement in settling the truckers dispute at the federally-regulated Port Metro Vancouver. I urge you to recognize that providing a high quality public education to young British Columbians is even more important to our future economic success. Moreover, every day the dispute continues it disrupts families, communities and productivity in our economy as the families of 500,000 children struggle to deal with the impacts.
We need government leadership that listens to parents, the public and the courts about the importance of addressing class size and composition. That will require better resources for our schools. Your government’s funding freeze is unrealistic and counter-productive to achieving your own stated education goals and the ability to achieve an immediate settlement.
Parents know that in your days as education minister you were directly responsible for unconstitutionally stripping teachers of the right to bargain class size and composition, making it harder to learn and harder to teach a whole generation of BC students.
Our children’s education is too important for you to do nothing but tweet platitudes and let an incapable minister continue on a destructive path. It is past time that you began to make amends for your own record of disruption and decline in classroom quality. I urge you to remove Mr. Fassbender. To show that you do not enter labour disputes simply for credit after the work is done, I urge you to personally and directly involve yourself in the negotiations, setting a new tone that respects teachers and our public education system, and finally bargaining as productively as your government repeatedly promised to do – so our kids can get back to school where they belong.
Bill Routley supports the teachers actions to get a fair deal and is working with John Horgan and the other NDP MLA’s and fully support the call for an independent mediator to step in and help provide both parties with the means to move forward and reach an agreement that puts B.C. kids back in school. Bill and Doug Morgan were both out on the picket line today, here are some pictures. Below are some of things that the NDP have been saying. I hope this answers some of your concerns about the current disruption in our schools, and the impact of this disruption on hundreds of thousands of kids, their families, and on our teachers who provide a first-rate public education for our kids.
New Democrat MLAs believe B.C.’s kids, parents and teachers deserve better than what they’re getting from the B.C. Liberal government and we have been working inside the legislature and out in their communities on your behalf.
Read more here: http://bit.ly/1wu6ebC
New Democrat Leader John Horgan, Education Critic Rob Fleming and many other MLAs have been visiting and supporting teachers at our schools to hear their concerns. We brought tough questions to Premier Christy Clark and Education Minister Fassbender in the legislature. View here: http://bit.ly/1pb8MXV
And we’ve been vocal in the media about the need for the Liberal government to step up and negotiate a fair deal. Read more here: http://bit.ly/1oh3Z7R and listen here: http://bit.ly/1l9KIUv
At a time when leadership is needed to bring both sides in this dispute together to achieve a respectful settlement, the B.C. Liberal government has continued to play political games with our children’s education. Premier Clark has been a constant factor in this government’s decade of conflict with teachers in B.C. As education minister in 2002, she passed a law that led to larger classes and less support for students with special needs. The B.C. Supreme Court struck down this law in 2011, and when the Liberal government introduced virtually identical legislation in 2012, the court struck that down as unconstitutional as well. In the court ruling released earlier this year, the judge chastised the government for bargaining in bad faith and for attempting to provoke a full-scale strike in B.C. schools.
Regrettably, recent attempts to provoke teachers and escalate tensions show the B.C. Liberals have not changed their tactics. Quality public education depends on stability in our schools. That’s why New Democrat MLAs are urging the government to turn the page on 12 years of political games that put kids last, and reach a negotiated settlement with B.C. teachers. I have also included the most updated media release below.
June 19, 2014 Statement from New Democrat leader John Horgan and education critic Rob Fleming on teacher negotiation update
VICTORIA – New Democrat leader John Horgan and education critic Rob Fleming issued the following statement in response to today’s developments in teacher bargaining: “Premier Clark has no credibility on public education with teachers or parents. For 12 years this government has made B.C. classrooms harder to learn in and harder to teach in. “Today we heard from the education minister that despite months at the bargaining table, the B.C. Liberal government is not only unable to find a fair settlement with teachers, but it has tabled what is essentially its final position and is now content to have students out of classrooms for “quite a while.”
“Moreover, the Clark government remains fixated on trying to persuade the public that this negotiation is about teacher pay, when it is clear to everyone else that what government has to do is fix classroom size and composition in the interests of all students and parents. “Premier Clark broke her promise last weekend that her team would negotiate 24/7 towards a fair settlement. Students and parents can’t afford for her to fail again. “That’s why New Democrats fully support the call for an independent mediator to step in and help provide both parties with the means to move forward and reach an agreement that puts B.C. kids back in school.
“It’s time for an independent mediator to step in, take the public politics out of this dispute, and help B.C. teachers finally reach a fair and sustainable settlement.” http://bcndpcaucus.ca STATEMENT June 16, 2014 Statement from B.C. New Democrats on state of teacher negotiations VICTORIA – New Democrat leader John Horgan and education critic Rob Fleming released the following statement in response to news that a deal between the province’s teachers and the B.C. Liberal government was not reached over the weekend: “For 12 years Christy Clark and the B.C. Liberals have been making it harder to teach and harder to learn in B.C.’s classrooms. Two B.C. Supreme Court rulings have found the government’s actions unconstitutional, and have directed the government to resolve class size and composition at the bargaining table. The Liberal government has failed to comply with the courts.
“It is very disappointing that the B.C. Liberals have failed to find the means to a fair settlement after raising expectations that we would get a deal done over the weekend. That disappointment will be felt the most by the kids who are unlikely to finish their school year with their friends and their teachers, and the parents who are struggling to make arrangements for their children. “As parents of school kids who’ve graduated from and are currently enrolled in B.C.’s public schools?, we know that public education is one of the greatest investments our province can make.” “Students, parents and teachers deserve better than what they’ve been getting from the B.C. Liberals for the past 12 years.”