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Late last week I received the results from the soil samples I collected on Lot 21 during the period that title reverted to the Crown.

Lot 21 Samples - Screen Shot4As I discussed earlier, I collected a total of fives samples from five separate locations on Lot 21 (see image above left for precise locations). Since automated drilling instruments were not allowed under FLNRO policy on Crown Land Use Policy, we used shovels to dig the five samples at depths of 28″, 14″, 15″, 22″ and 0″, respectively,

The soil samples were analysed by Maxxam Analytics for Volatile Organic, Total Hydrocarbon and Elemental Metal analyses. The results are now available. While I recognize that my approach of taking a few samples is a bit like looking for a needle in a hay stack, the good news is that both volatile organic and total hydrocarbon content were below detectable levels in all samples.

Lot 21As indicated in the Residential/Parkland column of the Soil Quality Guidelines of the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, the only sample that revealed above-recommended values was Sample #3. In this case both Zinc and Copper were over the guidelines.

While my tests are by no means exhaustive and do not address the fundamental question as to what, if anything, is buried deep under the surface in Lot 21, they add to the body of knowledge concerning the area.


  1. Neil Bryant-
    March 8, 2016 at 9:45 pm

    Whether the soil samples contain feared contaminants or not is not the issue. The concern is whether that Shawnigan site should be used as a repository for ANY soil from other areas in the province. For any resident whose spent time on the roads leading up to the dump site, the roads are covered in crud, the asphalt is cracked from the weight of the big trucks going over and over it, and the runoff from these roads is contaminating the local creek beds even if it is not ‘contaminated’ legally. Why should a mid-island holiday destination be used as a refuse pile for anyone else? Find an ugly piece of the mainland where no one lives or holidays and dump it there. NIMBY

  2. Shawn Wright-
    March 8, 2016 at 9:01 pm

    Thanks to all who took part in this sampling and testing process. As someone who is familiar with this site, I am not surprised that the top layer of soil would return fairly benign results, as this layer was likely just added after the dump site was already filled with materials of unknown origin. It stands to reason that something below that top layer is contributing to the contaminants identified in the water test results from the runoff below lot 21.
    Us overly anxious residents are simply looking for the truth, and in the case of Lot 21, the only way that will come out is with proper core samples and/or excavation.
    Don’t forget that SIA was served with three notices of violation for Lot 21, from the CVRD and the MOE. Those have never been properly addressed. Instead, the MOE just gave them a permit to legally dump what they had possibly already been dumping illegally on Lot 21.
    It may take years, and a change in government, but the truth will come out, in time. And the longer it takes, the more the taxpayers of BC will pay for the cleanup.

  3. Richard Chadwick-
    March 8, 2016 at 10:44 am

    “I was dumbfounded last night when I watched a CTV W5 report on “Trouble in Paradise”.
    More importantly, I could not believe this criminal scandal has been going on for a number of years!
    I owned property on Shawnigan Lake many years ago, and know the area well.
    This dumping of toxic landfill at sites around the lake should not be only a concern for the local residents, but should be a very BIG concern for every resident in the Greater Victoria area as well!
    Where is the CRD in all of this? As stewards and watershed protection for Southern Vancouver Island are the folks at CRD downstream without a paddle?
    Shawnigan Lake is part of this watershed area. Sooke Lake, which is the main feed for Victoria, just sits a bit south west of Shawnigan Lake. Then we have Goldstream, Leech River basin and so on.
    This indeed is a foul, toxic and according to what I saw and heard on W5 last night a corrupt, and very likely criminal activity too!
    South Island Aggregate engages Active Earth Engineering to do a feasibility study on their land fill sites, and what a surprise….all is good here, so off we go to the Ministry of Environment for approval. While behind the scenes SEI and Active Earth have a partnership set up to share in the profits. The ex chief of Malahat First Nations also seems to have a finger or two in the toxic pie……anybody else ?
    What about Minister of Environment Polak and Premier Clark ? Are these ladies also caught in the murky waters of deceit?
    Every resident should be very concerned about this. I am sure most people know, Greater Victoria continues to flush 130 million litres of it’s raw sewage and untreated waste water directly into the Juan de Fuca Strait…every day! Another environmental disaster that has been allowed to continue for years.
    Maybe to avert this potential drinking water disaster for generations to come, they should just begin dumping this toxic mess into Juan de Fuca Strait too?’

  4. Dave Hutchinson-
    March 6, 2016 at 9:32 pm

    Apart from the sample results, it is of interest to look closely at the photo that shows Lot 21 in the foreground with Lot 23 behind. It is remarkable that neither the owners nor the Province have any certainty about the volume or provenance of the mountain of questionable fill on Lot 21. Originally intended as reclamation material for Lot 23 (as per MEM regulations), they now say it will provide the “final cap” on Lot 23 following fifty years of contaminated waste dumping.

    The amount of fill currently sitting on Lot 23 is reportedly about 50,000 tonnes. The MOE permit allows 100,000 tonnes/year for 50 years, so there is about 100 times the current amount planned. It is difficult to visualize that on its own, let alone adding the mountain of material from Lot 21. It does not seem credible.

    Back to the sample results: Given the legitimate concerns about what has been buried on Lot 21, more tests by Provincial authorities are warranted; specifically core samples that penetrate 50 feet or more are required. The logistics are not difficult, nor would it be prohibitively expensive. Andrew Weaver’s samples are certainly not sufficient to put “minds at rest.”

    It is worth noting that the material was required to be Residential quality as per the original Mines Permit and the BC Contaminated Sites Regulation. A brief walk around the property shows that it contains all manner of industrial debris.

    As of March 6, 2016, Land Titles still shows the owner of Lot 21 as:


    Take an hour or two to check it out for yourself before offering an armchair opinion.

  5. Mike Sanborn-
    March 6, 2016 at 9:26 am

    Hello Andrew.
    Thank you for posting the results. One point of interest to your readers is that the concentration of copper measured in soil sample #3, while in excess of the CCME soil quality, it is below the background concentration of copper in soils found in Vancouver Island (Table 1 of BC CSR Protocol 4). Additionally since this isn’t a federal site, the provincial soils quality standards found in the BC CSR Schedule 4 and 5 are the more applicable regulatory benchmarks. Copper does not exceed any of the applicable Schedule 5 standards in your samples.

    As for Zinc, your reported concentrations in sample 3 exceed average background for Vancouver Island but do not exceed applicable BC CSR Schedule 5 Soil Quality Standards.

    Thank you for your continued public service to the constituents of Vancouver Island.

    Kind Regards,

  6. Jim Bennett-
    March 6, 2016 at 8:00 am

    Thanks to our Green MLA from Oak Bay- Gordon Head we have an independent sampling of this disputed zone at Shawnigan Lake.

    I applaud you for releasing the data although it seems not to totally be what the overly anxious residents around the lake up there would have hoped for in support of their picketing and screaming.

    Perhaps now things can settle down a bit and folks can accept your work and get back to their lives. And, since you’ve done your best to bring an un-bias review of what’s currently happening to the discussions, even the site owner might do a bit more to get to the bottom of what’s causing the extra zinc and copper deposit.

    Again, thanks for the good work on this.Have you shared the test results with SIA for their own review?