Hansard—July 2, 2013
COMMENTS BY LIBERAL CANDIDATE
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.
OFFICIAL OPPOSITION CRITIC ROLES
Leader, Official Opposition
Children and Family Development
Core Review, Gaming, Liquor Modernization, BC Pavilion Corporation, Legislative Accountability
Democratic Reform, and Deputy Critic, Environment and Deputy Critic, B.C. Ferries
Energy, House Leader
Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations
Deputy Critic, Forestry
Housing and CLBC
ICBC, Deputy Critic Finance
International Trade, Asia Pacific Strategy, Multiculturalism, Immigration, Intergovernmental Relations
Jobs, Employment, Labour and Worksafe BC
Justice (Attorney General)
Justice (Public Safety and Solicitor General)
Local Government and Sports
Mental Health and Addictions, Deputy House Leader
Natural Gas Development
Rural and Northern Health, Deputy Critic Children and Family Development
Rural Economic Development, Mining and Fisheries
Seniors and Seniors Health, Columbia River Treaty, Columbia Power
Small Business, Tourism, Arts and Culture
Deputy Critic, Small Business, Tourism, Arts and Culture
Technology, Innovation, Citizens’ Services, responsible for Green Jobs, TransLink
Transportation, Highways and B.C. Ferries
Women’s Issues, Child Care and Early Learning, Shipbuilding
Assistant Deputy Speaker (Designate)
Hon. Terry Lake
Minister of Environment
Room 112 – Parliament Buildings
Victoria, B.C. V8V 1X4
March 19, 2013
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
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:
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
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
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.
How Bill Routley helped the Ben family
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.”
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 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.
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
January 16, 2013
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.
Any inquiries can be made by contacting Doug Morgan 250-732-1245.
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
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.
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 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.
Liberal mismanagement of forestry costs B.C. jobs
VICTORIA – Another sawmill has cut back production for lack of fiber, while the B.C. Liberals continue to mismanage forestry by refusing to tackle the growing problem of raw log exports, say the New Democrats.
Western Forest Products’ Cowichan Bay mill was shut down for a week in November because of a lack of fiber; the mill is running with reduced shifts this week.
“Raw logs are being exported even faster than last year’s record numbers, yet the Liberal government has no answer,” said New Democrat deputy forest critic Bill Routley. “Last May, the forest minister promised a review on log exports, and 18 months later, we’re still waiting.
“Meanwhile, workers are losing wages just before the holiday season,” said Routley, whose Cowichan Valley constituency includes the Cowichan Bay mill. “It’s long past time the Liberals took some real action to ensure that B.C. logs create jobs in B.C.”
Routley noted that some Liberal MLAs agree with the New Democrat position that log exports cost jobs. Parksville-Qualicum MLA Ron Cantelon and Surrey-Tynehead MLA Dave Hayer have both been critical of their own government’s inaction.
In 2011, more than 5.5 million cubic metres of raw logs were exported from B.C. Included in that total were more than 40 per cent of the harvest from the coast and Vancouver Island. Numbers from November show that the rate of export is up by more than five per cent so far in 2012.
In the spring, New Democrats revealed that the forest minister overruled his own Timber Export Advisory Committee dozens of times, meaning logs that could have created jobs in B.C. were instead shipped out of the province.
“We’ve heard from mills in the lower mainland and on Vancouver Island that they would create new jobs if they could just get access to fiber,” said Routley. “Yet, the Liberals refuse to take any meaningful steps to reduce log exports.
“The minister needs to tell us why the review he promised 18 months ago has never been made public. And he should come to my community and tell workers why they’re losing wages while truckloads of logs go roaring past the mill, bound for export.”
Adrian Dix and the New Democrats believe the Liberal government is not up to the challenge of managing the economy, and British Columbians deserve better. New Democrats are offering change, for the better, one practical step at a time.
89.7 Sun FM
…Routley welcomed the protest in front of his office and said the NDP are calling on the federal government to legislate a permanent moratorium on oil tankers and oil drilling activity on B.C.’s north coast….
Pipeline protestors hit streets of Duncan, MLA’s office
Lexi Bainas, The Citizen
…They met at Cowichan Valley MLA Bill Routley’s office where he warmly welcomed the group, telling them he shared their views and was happy to see them out exercising their right to protest….
Local tests will ease the burden
By Lexi Bainas, CitizenOctober 19, 2012
…”It’s a step in the right direction, that’s for sure, making it more accessible,” said Routley.
There have been some changes in the program as well.
“We did have some people come into our office who were re-tested with an actual driving test and then actually passed. So, they are starting to correct some of the major errors that were there with DriveABLE. But, I still think it has to be made absolutely fair for everyone. I’m delighted to hear that it will at least be accessible in the Cowi-chan Valley.”
Perhaps pressure, both from the general public and from politicians, is having an effect on government’s view of the program, he said…
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