Green Party MLA Sonia Furstenau and Environment Minister George Heyman (Black Press)

Environmental review checks for conflicts

Self-regulating a factor in Mount Polley, Shawnigan Lake

Environment Minister George Heyman has launched his promised review of “professional reliance” on engineers and other professionals who oversee safety of industrial projects in B.C.

Heyman said the issue of water contamination of the Hullcar aquifer near Vernon, a contaminated soil storage facility near Shawnigan Lake and the Mount Polley mine tailings dam failure on Quesnel Lake have eroded public confidence in B.C.’s system.

“Actions flowing from this review will help restore public confidence in government’s oversight, to ensure the public interest is protected when it comes to resource management,” Heyman said Tuesday.

He said the B.C. government has lost capacity to regulate projects after a period of engineers and other professionals being hired by project proponents to file reports. In the case of contamination of the Hullcar aquifer, B.C.’s information commissioner had to order the release of water records because information from contracted professionals was withheld as private property, Heyman said.

Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau said she was “delighted” by the commitment to the review, which will also examine if people who are monitoring a project have a financial interest in it. A court challenge of the Shawnigan Lake contaminated soil site revealed such a situation, which Heyman said is clearly a conflict of interest.

“In Shawnigan we saw firsthand how the uncertainty created by professional reliance erodes trust,” Furstenau said. “The geologists hired to assess the safety of the contaminated soil facility adjacent to our community’s drinking water had a profit-sharing deal and would have benefitted from the project going ahead.”

Heyman said the Mount Polley investigation continues, as charges against individuals are considered for the collapse of the tailings dam in August 2014.

Just Posted

WATCH: Do you recognize this sexual assault suspect?

Victoria police release new footage suspect in Bay Centre attack on young girl

Foot found near Victoria belonged to missing Washington man

No foul play suspected in death of Stanley Okumoto, 79

James Bay residents face six-week long construction dig for sewage pipe

Niagara Street closed to vehicles as pipe assembly and installation connects Ogden Point to McLoughlin Point

Snow cancels, alters transit routes across Greater Victoria

Buses will not be stopping on steep hills, says BC Transit

Sidney’s Desiree Young at her first BC Winter Games

Wheelchair basketball player has been on the court for about a year

VIDEO: Top 10 B.C. budget highlights

The NDP is focusing on childcare, affordable housing and speeding up the elimination of MSP premiums

Team USA beats Canada 3-2 on the shootout to take home Olympic gold

Americans win their first gold medal since 1998

Two Haida men detained for crossing U.S.-Canada border

Edenshaw and Frisby travelled from Alaska to Prince Rupert for the All Native Basketball Tournament

Alberta takes out full-page ads in B.C. over strained relationship

It’s the latest move between the two provinces over progress on Trans Mountain pipeline expansion

B.C. teacher suspended over allegedly using N-word in worksheets

Trafalgar Elementary teacher under investigation by Vancouver School Board

Toddler swept away in Ontario floods

Toddler missing as flooding forces thousands from their homes in Ontario

Inside the Olympic performance of the Island’s Teal Harle

Islander finishes fifth in Olympic Men’s Slopestyle final in Pyeong Chang

BC BUDGET: New money helps seniors’ care shortage

Job stability for care aides key to recruitment, union leader says

Mixed messages on B.C.’s efforts to cool hot housing market

Economist says undersupply of homes in Metro Vancouver, Victoria and Kelowna will keep prices high

Most Read