Aerial view of the Cache Creek landfill

Legal cloud remains over Cache Creek landfill expansion

Court fight may affect whether Metro burns or buries garbage.

B.C.’s high court has ruled an Interior aboriginal group may not have been properly consulted in the environmental assessment of a proposed major expansion of the Cache Creek landfill.

The B.C. Court of Appeal did not immediately quash the environmental certificate issued last year, but ruled B.C.’s environmental approval process was defective and left the door open for the Nlaka’pamux Nation Tribal Council (NNTC) to file a new legal challenge to overturn the approval.

At stake is whether or not the Cache Creek landfill will be permitted to take garbage from Metro Vancouver for another two decades or more.

The 40-hectare expansion is proposed by the Village of Cache Creek and landfill operator Belkorp Environmental Services, even though Metro’s board has vowed since 2008 to stop dumping in the Interior and deal with the region’s waste closer to home.

Metro wants to pursue waste-to-energy options, which could see it build a new incinerator to burn garbage that can’t be recycled.

Some opponents who fear worsening air quality in the Fraser Valley hope Victoria rejects the idea – the province must still make a decision on Metro’s draft solid waste plan – and direct the region to keep trucking waste to Cache Creek.

The appeal court ruled the Environmental Assessment Office should have formally consulted the NNTC, which has opposed the dump expansion on grounds it may leach toxins and contaminate groundwater and local wildlife.

“Denying the NNTC a role within the assessment process is denying it access to an important part of the high-level planning process,” the court found.

Successive court rulings have found governments have a duty to consult First Nations whose aboriginal rights may be infringed when a major project is proposed on land they claim.

The province’s environmental review did consult numerous local bands, some belonging to the broader Nlaka’pamux First Nation and others to the Secwepemc First Nation, neither of which has a governing body speaking for the whole group.

Some of the bands back the expansion and the jobs the landfill provides, while others, particularly the ones allied with the NNTC, oppose it.

Both the Nlaka’pamux and Secwepemc claim the land the landfill extension sits on.

The competing claims and animosity between aboriginal groups made it a “daunting” job to craft a meaningful yet efficient consultation process, the court found.

“Difficult as it might have been to fulfill,” the judgment said, “the Crown’s duty to act honourably towards First Nations makes consultation a constitutional imperative.”

Cache Creek Mayor John Ranta said the next step depends on whether the NNTC now moves to overturn the environmental certificate.

“If they’re successful, that may put the project in some jeopardy,” he said.

A previously approved short-term expansion of the landfill allows Metro to continue using Cache Creek until about the end of 2015.

Metro waste management committee chair Greg Moore said the ruling does not appear to affect the region’s direction, as Metro intends to have new waste-handling facilities in place within the next few years.

“We don’t plan on using Cache Creek past our current contract date,” he said.

Just Posted

B.C. BUDGET: Fare freeze, free travel for seniors on BC Ferries

A complete fare freeze will be put into place on major routes, and fares will be rolled back on smaller routes by 15 per cent

Driver of vehicle down 90-foot embankment rescued on Highway 5 near Hope

Rope rescue conducted on mutual-aid call with Chilliwack SAR, Hope SAR and Agassiz fire department

UPDATE: Missing Dawson Creek not a risk to public, Hope RCMP says

33-year-old Jeremiah Alexander Smith’s vehicle found abandoned near Hope Feb. 14

BC BUDGET: New spaces a step to universal child care

Fees reduced for licensed daycare operators

BC BUDGET: NDP cracks down on speculators, hidden ownership

Foreign buyers’ tax extended to Fraser Valley, Okanagan, Vancouver Island

VIDEO: Top 10 B.C. budget highlights

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

Canucks blow three goal lead, lose to Avalanche in overtime

Vancouver struggled on the penalty kill, as Colorado scored all five goals on the powerplay

Widow of avalanche victim sues Golden lodge operator

A woman from Alberta is suing guides, their mountain guide association and the lodge operator for negligence

BC BUDGET: NDP hope to nix court delays with $15 million cash influx

Union says funding could stop sheriffs from leaving for higher paid jobs

Cattlemen urge B.C. to prevent erosion caused during 2017 wildfire season

Other concerns are fencing restoration and repair, and a lack of feed for cattle.

Patrick Brown’s Tory leadership bid fate looms

Brown’s bid to for Tory leadership to be decided on Wednesday

Alberta shrugs off B.C. legal challenge on wine ban

The potential fine Alberta faces for violating free trade rules according to economic development minister

Yelling vulgar slur at reporter not a crime says judge

Judge rules ‘vulgar’ slur against reporter was not a public disturbance

Most Read