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29th April 2022
April 4th, 2022
Press Release

Vancouver Island Water Watch Coalition and its member groups have been given a grant from West Coast Environmental Law to assist in attempting to protect the Cassidy Aquifer.

This Aquifer is one of the largest on Vancouver Island. It provides drinking water, water for agricultural lands and water for Harmac Pulp Mill in Area A of the Regional District of Nanaimo and Area H of the Cowichan Valley Regional District. Most of this aquifer has been determined to be highly vulnerable. This means that anything that is on the surface of the aquifer could taint the water below.

Our concerns have arisen because of the lack of care given to this underground body of water by the Regional District of Nanaimo in Area A and the Cowichan Valley Regional District in Area H.

The Regional District of Nanaimo has amended the Area A OCP to allow for the building of light industry, a hotel and other buildings on Airport Lands that sit directly over the Aquifer. The entirety of the Airport Lands is shown as “high” vulnerability. The Airport Lands do not appear to be serviced by either an RDN Community Water System or the North Cedar Improvement District (NCID) water system, meaning that an aquifer impact assessment was required before adopting zoning amendments for the Airport Lands. June Ross, Vancouver Water Watch Coalition says, “I have not been able to locate an aquifer impact assessment with respect to the Bylaw Amendments, so it appears that they were adopted in contravention of this policy.” The RDN needs to expand the Aquifer Protection Development Permit Area to include the Airport Lands, which would ensure that all new development must be assessed considering its potential impact on the aquifer.

The Cowichan Valley Regional District has allowed its own bylaws to be breached by allowing Schnitzer Steel, an automobile recycling plant, to grow and expand on a site that was not designated to contain this industry. North Oyster Diamond Ratepayers Association (NODRA) are a member group of VIWWC and have been working on this issue alongside VIWWC. Pauline Hunt, President of NODRA says, “Schnitzer Steel has applied to the CVRD for a rezoning of the area they are currently sited on. This must not be allowed to go through. If the CVRD allows the rezoning to go through, the Cassidy Aquifer will be highly threatened.”

The two Regional Districts must be held responsible for all impacts to the aquifer because of their actions. It is the citizens who live and work in these areas that will bear the brunt of the consequences of inaction and actions of the Regional Districts. Both Regional Districts need to move quickly, in conjunction with VIWWC and the citizens of the area, to protect the aquifer by reconsidering their lack of action concerning Schnitzer Steel and the amendments to the Area A Regional District of Nanaimo OCP. Bylaws that outline clearly how the aquifer will be protected in the future must also be developed.

June Ross – (250) 729-0185
Pauline Hunt - (250) 245- 2754