Water Act and Cowichan River

First Nations Water Rights

B. Routley: I must say that it’s really great to be back and once again have an opportunity to speak out on behalf of the fine people who live in the Cowichan Valley.

I want to focus today, the limited time that I have, on one throne speech item that’s critically important to people in the Cowichan Valley, and that’s the modernization of the century-old Water Act. This is an issue that is absolutely critical to a lot of my constituents, and we’re very concerned about the future of our water and our watersheds.

Hon. Speaker, did you know that without water you will start to die within 72 hours? We must have water. Without water, no food is grown, no energy is captured, no activity can be performed. We actually need water for life, yet we humans go around threatening our own life-giving water.

Did you know, hon. Speaker, that in Canada on any given day of the year, public health authorities are reporting more than 1,500 drinking water advisories that are enforced in communities throughout Canada?

[D. Horne in the chair.]

In the Cowichan Valley we have serious concerns about the pollution of drinking water — contamination that is being rained down on us by this Liberal government, contamination delivered, ironically, by your own Ministry of Environment. Government has the authority to dump contaminated soil in the Shawnigan watershed. They’ve given that authority.

I see that some of that dumping has begun already, even though most people generally believe that water is a shared public asset, that water must be protected and managed for the public good. And yet this Liberal government has adopted a kind of global economic fundamentalism.

As stated in the throne speech, they intend to be focused on getting to yes. They are all about getting to a profitable yes, even if it means dumping contaminated soil in Shawnigan Lake’s beautiful watershed. The Liberal yes, therefore, believes that community rights are not as important as profit-taking as a principle — or even as a core value to this Liberal government.

I believe this is totally unacceptable. This government has clearly ignored all of the positions taken by political parties. Across the spectrum we were unanimous during the last election that we had no interest in seeing a dumping-of-contaminated-soil plan go ahead — in the beautiful Shawnigan Lake watershed of all things.

Even the Liberal candidate said in this last election, “Not only is the site above a major aquifer that supplies drinking water; it is also right beside a stream that flows directly into the Shawnigan Lake. This is lunacy,” he declared. He was right. There’s one Liberal, for sure, I can agree with. Absolutely right that it’s lunacy, and it has begun.

All of the Cowichan Valley municipal groups that the CVRD represents, and those are communities all over the Cowichan Valley…. In fact, it goes beyond the boundaries of the Cowichan Valley.

[1445]

The majority of the CVRD and the Shawnigan residents were all ignored by this government, all treated as not as important as getting to yes. And yes for who? For one for-profit company, South Island Aggregates.

I’m not against business having the opportunity to get into business and do what they’ve been doing for years, and that’s providing gravel. But now they’ve been granted a permit, of all things, by this Ministry of Environment to dump up to five million tonnes of contaminated soil over the next 50 years in the Shawnigan Lake watershed.

It is quite simply a nightmare, the fact that this government could actually condone and support a plan to dump tonne after tonne of contaminated toxic soil with chemicals in this soil like furans and dioxins — dioxins are a cancer-causing chemical — petroleum hydrocarbons like benzene and styrene, just to name a few of the long list of contaminants approved to be dumped in the Shawnigan watershed.

This government says in the throne speech that they’re going to modernize the Water Act, yet by their actions they seem to have no focus on protecting the waters so critical to the people of the Cowichan region and the Shawnigan Lake region specifically.

What will happen to all of the toxic contaminants that are left on the truck tire treads? Has anybody thought about that? This may ultimately be spreading poisonous leachates throughout the trucking and transportation corridors as they travel over and over again, in and out of the contaminated soil-dumping sites throughout the Shawnigan region, over the Malahat to Victoria and beyond.

This is not far-fetched when all you have to do is drive to the little community of Youbou. Look what happens when the logging trucks, which are busy exporting logs, drive through that community all summer long, all winter long. In the summer it’s just dust clouds, and in the winter it’s mud sometimes right up to people’s ankles. Actually, the company, to their credit, finally put in a truck wash to wash some of the trucks.

Just think about this. We’re going to have tonnes and tonnes of toxic chemical dumped in our watershed, and then they are going to be trucking it in and out and up and down the road with all of those great big truck tires dragging it all over the community and up and down the highways.

To add more concern to this matter, these contaminants are to be brought into and dumped close to community wells and aquifers and right upstream to our pristine Shawnigan Lake, right in the very heart of our beautiful Shawnigan watershed. The residents have formed groups, such as the Shawnigan Residents Association, to try and stop this from happening. They had to do fundraising, if you can imagine this, to provide funds to try to protect themselves from the actions of their own government. Even the Cowichan Valley regional district has tried to get this government to listen and to stop this from happening.

To date, the wishes of all of the communities in the Cowichan Valley that I represent have been completely ignored. Government has clearly failed to act to protect the community interest when it comes to the water in Shawnigan Lake. There is no Liberal action plan to allow communities to stop this kind of risk-taking behaviour with their community watershed.

Yet I would remind the hon. Speaker that this government talks about an earthquake plan, earthquake preparedness. What do they think is going to happen? How are we going to prepare, in the event that there’s a catastrophic earthquake? Everybody, all the scientists, are talking about how it’s going to happen one day, and they’re busy trucking up and down the road all this toxic chemical right into the Cowichan Valley. It’s totally unacceptable.

Sadly, there’s nothing in this throne speech that gives any hope that this government has any interest in these kinds of community concerns, and that, to me, is very disturbing and regrettable. Communities ought to have the right to stop individuals from profit-taking when putting an entire community’s water at risk.

[1450]

What about them impacting the community land values? Any of the Liberal ministers that are here, what would you think about your land values? Any of the Liberal ministers that are here: what would you think about your land values and what would happen to them if they were moving a toxic dump into your neighbourhood, eh? What would you think that would…? You know, that’s a very serious consequence indeed. Everybody else gets to have their property values decrease as a result of one profit-taking, putting-the-community-at-risk kind of venture.

You look at the environmental and recreational opportunities in the community. What are you going to start up? Are you going to start up a canoeing or a kayaking venture right next to the toxic dump? I don’t think so. I don’t think too many people are going to be excited about setting up that kind of thing. I don’t know. Is the Green political friend here? Are you going to want to make a special trip up and do a tour of the beautiful Cowichan Valley and have a look at the lilies and the flowers that grow right next to the toxic chemicals? I don’t think so. Somehow I just don’t think it’s going to happen.

I would like to ask this government further. I would love to ask a question. What do you think tomorrow’s children would want to say to you about the incredible mess that you will have left behind for them? What do you think they would want to say to you if they could look you in the eye and take you by the hand up to this great big hole with 50 million tonnes of toxic chemicals, some kind of stew rolling around in their area? You’re going to tell them: “Oh, it’s all very fine. We’ve made an incredible mess for you, but oh well, it’s not in our backyard.” It’s not in the minister’s backyard — no.

Government should be able to…. They should be busy enabling communities to defend themselves, to defend the sustainability and protection of their communities’ water and watershed. This is important to communities. I don’t think, other than a roof over your head, having the basic necessities of life, like water…. That is pretty serious, when you start threatening that. That’s what this government has taken on.

I don’t understand how they don’t get it. All of these people rallying and protesting. I guess they get so used to it and their hides get so thick that it just runs off like more contaminated soil. I don’t know. The government should be listening. Instead, we get this Liberal dump-and-run policy, an “it’s not there in their backyard, so they just don’t care” attitude.

It’s clear for all to see that this government’s idea of moving ahead on this plan is to steamroll over any community interest, no matter what the risk to the environment or to the communities’ most basic of all needs. All they want is a little pure water.

Another great concern for the Cowichan Valley not addressed in this throne speech is the state of our world-class rivers, such as the Cowichan River, which is a Canadian heritage river. In the fall of 2012 the water was so low in the river that Cowichan Tribes First Nations and other community groups had to bring fish upstream in dump trucks in a desperate attempt to help the survival rate of our wild salmon stocks. It was deemed the trap-and-truck strategy. They even had a strategy, the trap-and-truck strategy, to haul fish upstream in dump trucks.

The Liberal government, I would add, had refused to listen to the community concerns regarding the need to hold back a little water at the weir in Lake Cowichan. We, in fact, ended up having a crisis in water levels that required this plan for rescuing fish. While I had communicated my support to the minister…. I’m sure you wouldn’t want to miss a page of this, so I’m just going to go back a little bit.

[1455]

What was incredible to me was that Cowichan Tribes, the mayors and Cowichan Valley regional district had all tried to talk to government in the spring of 2012. We even had the mayors, and all these mayors knocked on the door and said: “Could we get MLA Routley out in the hall to talk to him?” They were there with a member from Cowichan Tribes, and they said: “Lookit, we want the opportunity to hold back a little water. There’s not enough snowpack. We’re concerned at the low levels in the river at this juncture, and we want to just up….”

It’s like a ferry boat ramp, the weir is, and it just lifts up. They would have been able to save back a little rainwater in the lake so that they could dispatch it later. However, as a result of not listening, we ended up with this crisis in water levels that required this plan for rescuing fish.

While I had communicated my support to the Minister of Forests…. All the community leaders and even myself as MLA had put forward political capital in the community. By that I mean…. All of you know, as politicians, that if you stand up and say, “This is my position,” there are always some folks, believe it or not, that are not unanimous in their thinking of what they would like to see happen.

As far as I’m concerned, the issue became more of one…. All these mayors, First Nations, all unanimous — this was a no-brainer to me that it should be supported, so I supported them. The issue in the end is about what was more important for the community: the survival of fish and the Cowichan Valley river habitat or where we would be moving deck chairs on the beach if we hold back water for the weir.

I lived on Lake Cowichan. I lived in Marble Bay, had two hectares of land and it was all raked lowlands. I actually had about 190 feet of waterfront. When the summer…. When it went down, yeah, we liked it, because then we had more beachfront, and we got to move the deck chairs down the beach a little bit. But really, when it comes to preserving our wild salmon stocks…. To me, I don’t understand those folks who were upset about holding back a little water at the weir.

In the end, what happened to the salmon was that the salmon were stuck there in Cowichan Bay in the big, deep pools right down in the bay. They were sitting there as a breakfast, lunch and dinner buffet for the seals. The seals were even using one of the booming grounds as a kind of floating island to hang out on. That allowed them to stick nice and close by the salmon buffet.

Now, this wasn’t working out too well, though, for the salmon. Their numbers were going down pretty dramatically and pretty quickly. That’s when people decided we had to act. The fish and their future chance in the spawning grounds were all at a very elevated risk because of the low water levels in the river.

That brings me to the point that all of the Cowichan Valley community saw the problem; however, the provincial government — who actually had the power to act and to instruct the powers that be to hold back a little bit of water — chose not to do so. I’m sure the minister has reasons, but I do find it shocking to have all the mayors, the Cowichan Valley regional district chair, the MLA — everybody — stepping forward and saying, “Can we hold a little water back?” and it didn’t happen. And then our worst fears were realized.

Now, I want to illustrate the continuing frustration we feel in our communities regarding the government’s lack of actually listening to the concerns of the community, whether it be Cowichan Tribes or the Shawnigan community’s concerns for the contamination of their watershed. All of this is only magnified when you look at the position Cowichan Tribes have taken and shared with the community regarding their concerns and their representations to government on the upcoming Water Act modernization process.

[1500]

Please, if you do anything, just listen a little bit to what First Nations say in their submission to government regarding the Cowichan River and all that it means to them:

“Water is an integral part of the livelihood and existence of the Cowichan people. To us it is sacred. We have relied on water since time immemorial, and we take on the responsibility to look after it with the objective of keeping it clean and pure. Our water is essential to our cultural and spiritual needs, particularly related to traditional sources of food. Cowichan people have always fished and harvested from the rivers and the sea in our traditional territory.”

And they want to continue to do so.

It was really striking. In fact, a lot of us just stopped for a moment. We were at a watershed conference just weeks ago with people from all over Canada, actually from all over the world. All kinds of biologists and specialists and scientists who knew about water and watersheds were at this conference.

The former chief of Cowichan Tribes, Lydia Hwitsum, really had everybody awestruck in her point that, really, they had some very simple principles in mind. They said at the watershed conference that they wanted one day to see the First Nations and Cowichan Tribes be able to harvest the seafood like the clams that were once abundant and once available in Cowichan Bay. It’s been closed since the 1970s as a result of pollution and fecal coliform levels being so high that they can’t eat the contaminated fish.

It really was stunning to stop and think about what we have done to our water and to our watershed — that this chief had grown up as a little girl and remembers the day that they once used to be able to actually harvest the seafood. They can’t do it anymore, and she’d really like to live long enough to see a day where they could once again harvest the seafood.

“The current Water Act” — which was put in place back in 1909 — “is based on the colonialist approach of the time,” they point out, “with First Nations’ interests dismissed outright. Revamping or modernizing the Water Act is long overdue, and Cowichan Tribes want to express our concern that this process needs to be based on aboriginal rights and title to the water in our territory. Therefore we take the stand that this process needs to be based on ‘duality of ownership’ and that the province does not assume it has jurisdiction over water, nor is it the sole authority to delegate management of water in our territory.”

I pause there to make the point that it’s interesting that back in 1909 they established some principles, the kind of first in, first rights principle that gave people continuing rights. Even today some of those rights have been sold and are treated as…. I mean, they are like gold to whoever had the rights to water, and water in areas….

It’s unfortunate that the First Nations are claiming that even today there doesn’t seem to be any rights of the duality of ownership for First Nations who live in areas that they’ve been assigned.

“Water issues in Cowichan traditional territory.

“Cowichan people and culture have always been intimately connected to the watershed. Because of the placement of reserve lands by the federal government, most of us live in the floodplain of the Cowichan or Koksilah rivers.”

Well, that was convenient of them, eh? The feds thought that it was the right thing to do to give them the floodplain.

“Every year a large portion of the reserves are flooded and our members are forced to leave their homes. Much of this flooding is caused by unchecked activities in our watershed” — urbanization, poor logging practices. “Not only does the flooding affect our homes; it also further increases the contamination of our wells and our rivers.

[1505]

“Cowichan Tribes reserves have a total of 50 wells, including ten community wells. There are boil-water advisories on approximately 90 percent of these wells. Clearly, Cowichan Tribes needs more control over activities in the watershed that affect our culture and the well-being of our communities.”

Cowichan Tribes apparently is currently in litigation — I guess along with the teachers; they’re in line for the courts — with the province over a water issue.

“We took this step because the province was not listening to us” — oh, there’s a familiar theme — “by way of many letters and phone calls, specifically with regard to issuing land tenure on Crown land for the access to a well. Despite our pleas to not issue this tenure and the fact the Crown land is on the treaty table, the province denied our aboriginal rights and permitted tenure to the proponent. Cowichan Tribes is confronted with water issues now” — the pressure is on the resource in a very heavy way — “and we simply cannot wait for a stalled treaty process to accommodate our need to protect the sacred resource.

“In 2004 Cowichan Tribes initiated a project to develop a strategic recovery plan for fish and aquatic resources within the Cowichan watershed, which includes the Cowichan and Koksilah rivers and the Cowichan estuary. The Cowichan Recovery Plan was completed in 2005, and in 2007 the Cowichan basin water management plan was developed by a partnership consisting of Cowichan Tribes, the Cowichan Valley regional district, B.C. Ministry of Environment, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Catalyst Paper Corp.”

They, by the way, have a large say in the river. They have rights to almost a third of the water in the summertime.

“The partnership resulted in the Cowichan Tribes–led Cowichan Stewardship Roundtable, which includes all the stakeholders from the Cowichan Valley interested in watershed management issues….

“The advisory board is a model for what is working with respect to water and watershed management in the Cowichan Valley. It is also a model for what will work as a future governance model under a modernized Water Act.

“Cowichan Tribes has always had involvement in numerous restoration and stewardship activities. This year our aboriginal fisheries department is working to develop a ‘vision document’ for the purpose of clarifying the role that Cowichan wishes to take in rebuilding the Cowichan River chinook….”

I might stop here and add that Cowichan Tribes are the largest First Nations group in British Columbia — the largest band, group of bands. There are six major bands that are involved in Cowichan Tribes.

“At a recent community meeting Cowichan members were asked ‘what was their “vision” for the watershed and its fisheries.’ Comments included Cowichan Tribes having more control over their traditional territory and greater power over decisions involving development, land use, water quality and quantity.

“The Cowichan community strongly expressed the desire to see a clean and healthy watershed in the future to allow for the preservation of spiritual and ceremonial uses as well as to provide access to clean and healthy food. A Cowichan elder stressed the importance of protecting the watershed through partnerships and shared stewardship. The only way that this partnership can work is to begin dialogue around the duality of water ownership….

“As outlined in the opening caveat of this submission,” we believe that “the process by which the Water Act is being modernized is flawed. There are also underlying assumptions that must be discussed with First Nations.”

I see that the clock is running out, and I want to talk about the community, the CVRD. The watershed put forward a group of recommendations which I’ll be expounding on later.

One of them that’s critical is the fundamental concern of the whole-of-watershed planning and management. There is a serious concern that we’re still going back, in the 1909 amendments, to the thinking that is outdated and antiquated in that we’re not planning and managing on the basis of the entire watershed, or whole-of-watershed planning and management.

[1510]

We believe in Cowichan that the legislation is flawed because it does not empower whole-of-watershed management.

“Although water sustainability plans would be allowed for, at its core the primary focus of the legislation continues to be water allocation. We respectfully submit that in order to ensure adequate flows, good water quality, sustainable fish populations, other ecosystem services and a sustainable economy, we must plan and set clear objectives at the watershed…level.”

Area F – Volunteer Dinner

bill_ian_jean_2013
Photo by Malcolm Chalmers Photography.

Area F & I Volunteer Dinner ~ December 21, 2013

MLA, Bill Routley, Ian Morrison and MP, Jean Crowder

OPEN HOUSE! MP Jean Crowder & MLA Bill Routley

Season’s Greetings!

Come join MLA, Bill Routley & MP, Jean Crowder
for the open house at the office:

Thursday, December 19, 2013

3:00pm to 5:00pm
273 Trunk Road

Please bring a non-perishable item for
the Cowichan Valley Basket Society.

Constituancy Report – October 2013

Constituancy Report – October 2013

BILL ROUTLEY PRESENTING SIA PETITION – JULY 24 2013

HEALTH ESTIMATES – BILL ROUTLEY – JULY 24 2013

ENVIRONMENT ESTIMATES BILL ROUTLEY – JULY 11 2013

Bill Routley – Forestry & Lands Estimations

COMMENTS BY LIBERAL CANDIDATE AND PROTECTION OF SHAWNIGAN LAKE WATERSHED

Hansard—July 2, 2013

Afternoon Sitting

COMMENTS BY LIBERAL CANDIDATE
AND PROTECTION OF
SHAWNIGAN LAKE WATERSHED

B. Routley: Before the election, the B.C. Liberal candidate for the Cowichan Valley, Steve Houser, said this about a plan to dump 100,000 tonnes of contaminated soil annually into the Shawnigan Lake watershed: “Not only is the site above a major aquifer that supplies drinking water, it is also right beside a stream that flows directly into the Shawnigan Lake.” “This is lunacy,” he declared.

It is incomprehensible to me that a bureaucrat in the Ministry of Environment could authorize such a potentially poisonous travesty.

My question is to the Minister of Environment. Do you agree with the Liberal candidate’s assessment?

Hon. M. Polak: There is no question that when it comes to the development of our natural resources or dealing with hazardous materials, these can all become very emotional issues, especially in a province like British Columbia where people care so deeply about the environment around them. On both sides of this House we care deeply about our environment in British Columbia.

What I can assure this House of is that our government believes in depending on expert advice and, most importantly, ensuring that there is a proper process followed when we make decisions. In this case, a statutory decision-maker — not the minister — will pore over the 300 or more submissions that were received and will return a decision that is free from political interference, unlike some of the examples we have seen on the other side.

Madam Speaker: Member on a supplemental.

B. Routley: Right after the election, Steve Houser landed a cushy job as manager of “the strategic planning,” working out of the Liberal spin-doctor shop. Maybe that’s why he has been so quiet about this toxic waste dump since the election.

Will the Minister of Environment ensure the protection of the Shawnigan Lake watershed as was promised during the election by their candidate turned communication adviser?

Hon. M. Polak: I can assure this House that we will make a decision based on the statutory decision-maker outlining their reasons. They will provide that decision to the people of British Columbia, to the people of Shawnigan Lake. I can confirm to this House: that will not be interfered with by the minister. In fact, I can assure this House that we will not be pulling a sudden decision out of our hat that the rest of our team doesn’t know anything about.

Bill being sworn in

OFFICIAL OPPOSITION CRITIC ROLES

OFFICIAL OPPOSITION CRITIC ROLES

Leader, Official Opposition
Adrian Dix (Vancouver-Kingsway)

Aboriginal Relations
Doug Donaldson (Stikine)

Advanced Education
David Eby (Vancouver-Point Grey)

Agriculture
Nicholas Simons (Powell River-Sunshine Coast)

Children and Family Development
Carole James (Victoria-Beacon Hill)

Core Review, Gaming, Liquor Modernization, BC Pavilion Corporation, Legislative Accountability
Shane Simpson (Vancouver-Hastings)

Democratic Reform, and Deputy Critic, Environment and Deputy Critic, B.C. Ferries
Gary Holman (Saanich North and the Islands)

Education
Rob Fleming (Victoria-Swan Lake)

Energy, House Leader
John Horgan (Juan de Fuca)

Environment
Spencer Chandra-Herbert (Vancouver-West End)

Finance
Mike Farnworth (Port Coquitlam)

Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations
Norm Macdonald (Columbia River-Revelstoke)

Deputy Critic, Forestry
Bill Routley (Cowichan Valley)

Health
Judy Darcy (New Westminster)

Housing and CLBC
Jenny Kwan (Vancouver-Mount Pleasant)

ICBC, Deputy Critic Finance
Mable Elmore (Vancouver-Kensington)

International Trade, Asia Pacific Strategy, Multiculturalism, Immigration, Intergovernmental Relations
Chair, Public Accounts Committee
Bruce Ralston (Surrey-Whalley)

Jobs, Employment, Labour and Worksafe BC
Harry Bains (Surrey-Newton)

Justice (Attorney General)
Leonard Krog (Nanaimo)

Justice (Public Safety and Solicitor General)
Kathy Corrigan (Burnaby-Deer Lake)

Local Government and Sports
Selina Robinson (Coquitlam-Maillardville)

Mental Health and Addictions, Deputy House Leader
Sue Hammell (Surrey-Green Timbers)

Natural Gas Development
Robin Austin (Skeena)

Rural and Northern Health, Deputy Critic Children and Family Development
Jennifer Rice (North Coast)

Rural Economic Development, Mining and Fisheries
Scott Fraser (Alberni-Pacific Rim)

Seniors and Seniors Health, Columbia River Treaty, Columbia Power
Katrine Conroy (Kootenay West)

Skills Training
Doug Routley (Nanaimo-North Cowichan)

Small Business, Tourism, Arts and Culture
Lana Popham (Saanich South)

Deputy Critic, Small Business, Tourism, Arts and Culture
Jane Shin (Burnaby-Lougheed)

Social Development
Michelle Mungall (Nelson-Creston)

Technology, Innovation, Citizens’ Services, responsible for Green Jobs, TransLink
George Heyman (Vancouver-Fairview)

Transportation, Highways and B.C. Ferries
Claire Trevena (North Island)

Women’s Issues, Child Care and Early Learning, Shipbuilding
Maurine Karagianis (Esquimalt-Royal Roads)

Assistant Deputy Speaker (Designate)
Raj Chouhan (Burnaby-Edmonds)

Bill Routley’s response to contaminated soil dumping

TO:

Hon. Terry Lake

Minister of Environment

Room 112 – Parliament Buildings

Victoria, B.C. V8V 1X4

 

March 19, 2013

 

Dear Minister,

 

Re: Draft Ministry of Environment Permit to dump contaminated soil in

the Shawnigan Watershed.

 

I request that your government immediately halt any further action on the

issuance of a permit to dump contaminated industrial waste adjacent to the

Shawnigan Lake community watershed. To date, none of the key questions and

concerns raised by members of the community, independent consultants and

other parties reviewing this application have been adequately addressed.

 

Water is a critical issue for all communities. And in this case, the very viability of

Shawnigan Lake as a liveable community is at stake. Shawnigan Lake’s essential

connection to clean uncontaminated water is at risk of being permanently

damaged.

 

The proposed industrial waste storage site borders Shawnigan Creek. Any

contaminated run-off from the site would quickly flow to the creek and

into Shawnigan Lake. The community is also extremely concerned about

potential contamination of groundwater in nearby aquifers near the site. Since

the lake is a licensed drinking water source this proposal puts thousands of

homeowners in a situation of economic and health risk if the water source is

fouled. While the proponent plans to build containment works, the community

remains concerned that they will be inadequate and that the risks of this specific

site cannot be properly mitigated. The public is also unconvinced that

containment assets will be properly monitored and maintained over time and after

the site is closed.

 

It is not just Shawnigan Lake’s drinking water that is put at risk with the proposed

landfill. There are also many homes supplied with drinking water from

groundwater wells nearby and downstream from the site. There are 5 wells within

250 metres of the proposed landfill site. These drinking water wells could draw

water from beneath the proposed landfill site. Additionally, there are up to 10

more wells downstream from the landfill site. All of these wells could have their

water quality negatively impacted by the landfill.

 

It is outrageous to me that your government would not use an abundance of

precaution, exercise its due diligence and legal responsibilities to protect drinking

water and ensure that science-based questions and concerns are

answered. Sadly, I am not surprised with this government’s lack of community

concern for water and watershed protection – we have seen this play out in far

too many communities all over British Columbia, where your government has

acted against the specific wishes of the community.

 

Minister, I urge you to do everything within your authority and discretion to

protect the drinking water supply of over 7,000 of my constituents. As the MLA

representing Shawnigan Lake residents, I urge you to immediately direct your

Ministry to address the community’s outstanding concerns to fill in the sciencebased

modeling and knowledge gaps that to date have been ignored. I am

advised the province has failed to respond to concerns outlined

by Hydrologist D.A. Lowen has made his specific concerns available to your

government relating to the lack of protections proposed for the communities

drinking water and the integrity of the watershed.

 

His report contained the following recommendations, which have yet to be

addressed by the Ministry of the Environment:

 

Recommendations:

 

1. A comprehensive Environmental Impact Study must be completed before this

site could be approved for disposal. These kinds of studies are mandatory for

wastewater disposal which is a smaller risk than contaminated soil.

 

2. Construction of monitoring wells, aquifer testing, water quality sampling and

contaminant flow modeling should be undertaken to assess the suitability of this

site.

 

3. The site should have a leak detection system and a contamination containment

plan. Commonly contaminated groundwater is pumped out of the aquifer and

piped to a treatment plant. Naturally all these necessary risk reduction measures

are very costly therefore long-term financing plans would also be needed.

 

4. A cost-benefit analysis should be carried out to ensure that this proposal is

sustainable.

 

I have attached the entire report for your immediate personal review, as I strongly

believe the community is entitled to a fulsome response and action on these

recommendations from your Ministry.

 

I look forward to hearing from you on a timely basis on this urgent matter and

informing my constituents of what actions you are willing or unwilling to take.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

 

Yours Sincerely,

Bill Routley

Cowichan Valley

VIDEO: Emily Ben and Bill Routley

How Bill Routley helped the Ben family

Emily Ben: Difference Maker

Bill with Emily Ben

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emily Ben contracted bacterial meningitis at 6 months of age. The meningitis damaged the growth plates in her legs; therefore, her legs do not grow at the same rate. Until the she stops growing, Emily has to have a special procedure called Ilizarov,which is a lengthening of the limbs. She receives this procedure every time her limbs grow 5 cm.

In February, 2012, Emily and her family went to see her orthopedic specialist at BC Children’s Hospital. At that time, she was told that she and other children had up to a two year wait before the surgery they required might be done. In response, her family started a letter writing campaign to everyone they could think of – the hospital, governing boards, MLAs, MPs, and to the BC Health Minister.

The Ben’s local MLA Constituency office stumbled upon the letter, and took action right away. They began contacting Emily’s specialist at BC Children’s Hospital, the BC Health Minister and NDP leader Adrian Dix regarding Emily’s plight. On April 25, 2012, news media from TV and newspaper came to Emily’s home to interview her family regarding what was happening to her.

At almost the same time, in Question Period in the BC Legislature, Adrian Dix raised the matter with the Health Minister. In response to his questions, Mr. Dix won a commitment from the health minister to decrease surgical wait times and to address other roadblocks for Emily and others receiving the surgery that they needed.

On August 20, 2012 Emily received the surgery that she required. Thanks to the campaign, 10 other children were able to receive surgeries that they required as well.

On November 17, 2012 Emily Ben was presented the Rick Hansen Difference Maker Award at the Cowichan Valley NDP Gala fundraising dinner in honour of her courage and her strength of spirit. Adrian Dix and other NDP MLAs were also in attendance. This night was a very special night for Emily as it was also her 9th birthday.

Emily’s mother later commented: “It made our daughter feel very important and very honoured to have received such an award. The award was an honour; she has been through so much and that night for her will be one she will always remember for the rest of her life.”

http://www.rickhansen.com/language/en-CA/Who-We-Are/About-Rick-Hansen/The-Hansen-Effect/Emily-Ben.aspx

Great Spaghetti Dinner!

The Spagehetti Dinner was a great turnout. Thank you everyone for coming and a big thank you to Geoff Meggs and Rod Mickleburgh for a great presentation on the Dave Barrett years. Their book, ” The Art of the Impossible: Dave Barrett and the NDP in Power, 1972-1975″ is available in bookstores now.

Bill, Rob and Geof

Dinner Time!

Geoff Meggs Speaking

Bill Routley attends Heart and Stroke Foundation Fundraiser

Bill attended the fundraiser on February 4th to show his support to the organization. He was asked to speak last minute where he said, “Now, more than ever, I understand why this organization’s goals are so important.”

Bill just underwent a heart surgery to have a valve in his heart replaced and is obviously doing very well.

Bill Speaking at the Heart and Stroke

Bill at the Heart and Stroke fundraiser

Bill at the Heart and Stroke fundraiser

Liberals need to clarify their muddled position on smart meter installations

Smart Meter

BC Hydro Smart Meter

MEDIA RELEASE

Jan. 29, 2013

 

Liberals need to clarify their muddled position on smart meter installations

 

VICTORIA – The Liberal government must clarify their muddled position on smart meter installations and tell British Columbians just what options they have when it comes to the smart meter program, say the New Democrats.

 

“One week customers are receiving threatening letters saying the meters will be installed no matter what. The next week the energy minister pens an opinion piece saying B.C. Hydro won’t install a new meter without the homeowner’s consent,” said New Democrat energy critic John Horgan. “Which is it? You can’t have it both ways.”

 

A statement issued this week from Liberal MLA Gordon Hogg’s office says “Minister Coleman advised Gordon that individual home owners, who had not yet  had a smart meter installed on their home, would not have to have one.” The statement goes on to say, “You will not be ‘forced’ into having one or be in fear of it being installed when you are not home.”

 

Horgan said a call from his office to B.C. Hydro failed to clarify the issue. A B.C. Hydro spokesperson was not aware of any written policy regarding the energy minister’s comments.

 

“People in British Columbia are feeling harassed by the Liberal government and B.C. Hydro contractors,” said Horgan. “The energy minister needs to be clear, or that frustration and anger will continue to grow.”

 

Horgan said if the Liberals allowed the independent B.C. Utilities Commission to look into a compromise that works for everyone, much of this confusion could have been avoided.

 

“The smart meter initiative – a billion dollar expenditure – has been rife with discord from the beginning, and the independent utilities commission has been barred from overseeing the process,” said Horgan. “This Liberal government is tired, and isn’t up to the challenge of addressing the concerns of British Columbians.”

 

B.C.’s New Democrats are committed to restoring the regulatory role of the B.C. Utilities Commission, and will take practical steps to get B.C. Hydro back on its feet to bring greater stability and proper long-term planning to British Columbia’s energy policy.

 

 

Social media: http://j.mp/We8jYs

Cowichan Valley MLA Bill Routley had a successful surgery

MEDIA RELEASE

 

January 16, 2013
VICTORIA – Cowichan Valley MLA Bill Routley had a successful surgery to deal with a heart condition last week in Victoria. Bill is doing well and is expected to make a full recovery by March.

 

Bill is looking forward to getting back on his feet and returning to serve his constituents as soon as possible.

Bill would like to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery.

 

Please note Bill will not be doing media interviews during this time to ensure he can get the rest he needs.

 

Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Recipients

In a joint ceremony on December 17, 2012, Jean Crowder, MP and Bill Routley, MLA presented the recipients with Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medals

On February 6th, 2012, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II marked the 60th anniversary of her accession to the Throne as Queen of Canada – an occasion marked only once before by her great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, in 1897.

In celebration of this event, a commemorative medal has been created as a visible and tangible way of recognizing outstanding Canadians who have helped build and continue to build this caring country through their service, contributions and achievements. You are one of those Great Canadians.

I would therefore like to offer my congratulations, as you have been awarded a Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal for your outstanding contributions to our community.

Your great work and dedication to your community has contributed to bettering the lives of residents, friends, and neighbours. Your commitment to excellence in all that you do is demonstrated by your selfless involvement in your community.

Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Recipients
Cowichan Valley Recipients

Joan Gillatt, Duncan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joan Gillatt’s community service includes Children and Youth Leadership with Cubs and Brownies, 10 years as a Cowichan School Board Trustee ,Four years as School District Board Chair ,Joan spent 9 Years on Duncan City Council and she was awarded the highest honor the City of Duncan can bestow “Freeman” also she has years of volunteer work with the ,Cowichan Lodge Senior Care Facility, Cowichan District Hospital Board, Cowichan United Way, Community Futures, Duncan United Church and many other volunteer roles over the years.

 

Betty-Anne Devitt, Crofton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For nearly 25 years, six days a week, Betty Anne Devitt has provided food hampers and meals to the most vulnerable people in our community as a volunteer leader and member of the board of the Cowichan Valley Basket Society.

 

Chuck McCandless, Duncan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chuck McCandless is a warm soul and is a very special Canadian Mental Health Association Outreach worker here in the Cowichan Valley, Chuck works tirelessly ,often behind the scenes as he advocates for homeless people and he helps those who are in need

 

Michael Coleman, Duncan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michael Coleman, Lawyer and Community leader for 40 years, Mike spent 22 years as City of Duncan Mayor, he was instrumental in the creation of the such agencies as the Hiiye Yu Lelum (House of Friendship, Cowichan United Way, Family Life, Big Brothers, Community Futures, Legal Aid, Cowichan Valley Bar Association, Cowichan District Hospital Foundation and in 2010 he was awarded the honorary designation of Queen`s Counsel.