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NDP critic questions speed of Cache Creek landfill decision

The New Democratic Party's environment critic, Rob Fleming, last week questioned the speed with which Environment Minister Barry Penner approved an extension to the Cache Creek landfill earlier this year.

In January the Tyee reported on the ties between the provincial government and Belkorp Industries Inc., the company that manages the dump.

Penner signed the environmental assessment certificate to extend the Cache Creek dump for 17 to 25 years on January 6, less than a week after receiving environment ministry staff recommendations on the project. By law he could have taken up to 45 days to consider.

“The minister didn't comment on or dispute that signing the certificate took him six days over Christmas, that he first received the application on New Year's Eve and that just a few business days later it was signed,” said Fleming during debate of the environment ministry's budget. “I find that odd.”

Penner said what to do with Vancouver's garbage has had much discussion since he became minister since 2005 and the landfill extension had been in a formal environmental assessment process since 2008.

“This project and proposal and issues pertaining to Cache Creek have been very much front and centre for a very long time,” said Penner. “I have considerable familiarity with this entire topic, including this particular proposal, as it had been in the environmental assessment process for a considerable period of time, starting in August 2008, and I've had frequent briefings on this matter throughout.”

Fleming pointed out the connections between Belkorp and the government. Former deputy minister to the premier Ken Dobell is registered to lobby for the company and former finance minister Gary Collins is a Belkorp vice-president. The company has given $75,000 to the B.C. Liberal Party since 2008, Fleming said.

Penner responded that the Cache Creek decision was made based on the facts in front of him. “I made my decision based on the work that was done by the environmental assessment office.”

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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