Court decision could be critical: Do our bylaws mean anything or not?

It’s all about trying to prevent this situation from repeating itself.

Some will no doubt wonder what the point is.

But we agree with the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s decision to continue its case at the Canadian Supreme Court over the contaminated soil facility in Shawnigan Lake, even though the site has been shut down permanently.

It’s all about trying to prevent this situation from repeating itself.

Whichever side of the fence you were on, whether you wanted the contaminated soil site shut down due to worries about the community’s drinking water supply and the watershed’s health as a whole, or whether you felt that the owners of the facility had done enough to ensure safety that they should be allowed to operate in peace, this wasn’t a fun fight.

It was also an incredibly expensive one.

It cost the soil facility owners millions. It cost the Cowichan Valley Regional District a pretty penny, as well. And it cost the residents of Shawnigan Lake a bucket of cash as they, too, hired legal counsel and went to court.

That’s to say nothing of the animosity that crept into the fight.

It’s hard to see anyone as full-out winners in this situation.

Looming over everything is the very real possibility that this won’t be the last fight of its kind in the regional district, or, indeed (the reason we hope the Supreme Court of Canada will hear the case) in the province or even the country.

The CVRD has argued that the contaminated soil site was contrary to its bylaws for the area. The provincial appeals court ruled that the provincial mines ministry permits can overrule these local laws.

So do our bylaws mean anything or not? We’re certainly hoping that they do. It’s a little scary to think that another level of government can sweep in from afar and decide what our community is going to look like, overriding the wishes of the people who live here.

It’s likely we may find in the future that this isn’t the only bylaw at stake, either.

Our local governments and the bylaws they create are the place where people can have the most input and influence over how we collectively live.

We may be fewer voices, but we can be just as loud. And we’re just as important.

Cowichan Valley Citizen