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Chilliwack city hall faces lawsuit over hazardous waste plant rezoning

The coalition of groups opposed to a hazardous waste recycling plant on the Fraser River have filed lawsuit against the City of Chilliwack for what they say was an improper public process. - Paul J. Henderson
The coalition of groups opposed to a hazardous waste recycling plant on the Fraser River have filed lawsuit against the City of Chilliwack for what they say was an improper public process.
— image credit: Paul J. Henderson

A member of the coalition of groups opposed to a hazardous waste facility next to the Fraser River has filed a lawsuit against the City of Chilliwack to set aside the rezoning for the plant.

The coalition, which includes First Nations, environmental and recreational fishing organizations, argues the city’s rezoning process violated the Local Government Act.

“It is striking that the Notice makes no mention of hazardous waste, toxins or any other term that might flag . . . that the facility is not handling newspapers, bottles, cans or other non-hazardous materials,” said Andrew Gage of West Coast Environmental Law.

The lawsuit was filed by Chilliwack resident Glen Thompson and the Outdoor Recreation Council.

In March, the coalition met with representatives for Aevitas, the company proposing to build the plant, and the group emphasized in a press release it has no concerns about the company or the facility, it is simply the location just metres away from the Fraser River in the Cattermole Lands.

Mayor Sharon Gaetz said she cannot comment on the case as it is before the courts, but she did direct residents to the city’s website to find information about the project.

“There is detailed information online about the stringent safeguards and the multi-barrier approach that will be taken to protect the river and surrounding environment.”

Because of the rezoning for this plant, the Outdoor Recreation Council (ORC) of British Columbia recently named the stretch of the Fraser River past Chilliwack as one of the top 10 endangered rivers in the province for 2014.

If the lawsuit is successful, it wouldn’t necessarily nix the project or even the location. City hall would have to restart the rezoning application process with a new public hearing.

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