B.C. government sued over revoked Shawnigan Lake soil dumping permit
Cobble Hill Holdings alleges Mary Polak and environment ministry acted unlawfully
The owner of an old Vancouver Island quarry is suing the B.C. government for cancelling a waste discharge permit that allowed it to store contaminated soil.
Former environment minister Mary Polak is also named in the statement of claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court this week by Cobble Hill Holdings, which owns the site upstream of Shawnigan Lake.
A permit issued in 2013 had allowed the company to accept and store up to 100,000 tonnes of contaminated soil at the site every year, provoking the anger of people who live around the lake.
When Polak revoked the permit in February, she said Cobble Hill had failed to provide proof that it had financial security in the form of an irrevocable letter of credit, in breach of the permit requirements.
But according to Cobble Hill's claim, the ministry had not "specif(ied) any form or amount of security which CHH was to provide and maintain."
Province accused of acting unlawfully
The suit alleges the province acted unlawfully when it cancelled the permit, accusing Polak and her former ministry of negligence and abuse of public office.
The company claims its lands have become contaminated and its business has been hurt as a result of the government's actions. Cobble Hill hasn't specified a dollar amount in its lawsuit, but the claim asks for general, special, aggravated and punitive damages.
None of the allegations in the statement of claim have been proven in court. Neither Polak nor the environment ministry have filed statements of defence.
Spokesman David Karn wrote in an email that the ministry is aware of the suit, but he could not comment on a claim that is before the courts.
"Once we receive the application materials they will be reviewed to determine an appropriate response," Karn wrote.
Polak did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.
People living around Shawnigan Lake have long been concerned about the contamination spreading to their water from the former quarry.
The Cowichan Valley Regional District tried suing the company, arguing that the site was operating as a landfill in violation of zoning bylaws, but that claim was ultimately rejected by the Supreme Court of Canada.