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Liberal donor company wins bid to expand Cache Creek landfill

Environment minister Barry Penner and rural development minister Bill Bennett gave an environmental assessment certificate today to a landfill project run by a well-connected company that has made significant donations to the B.C. Liberal Party.

Belkorp Environmental Services Ltd. [sic] and the Village of Cache Creek received permission to expand its Cache Creek landfill by 42 hectares, a project that will cost $100 million, extend the use of the landfill for two decades and employ 120 people on an ongoing basis, the provincial government announced today.

The landfill, which receives much of metro Vancouver's garbage, had previously been set to close in 2010.

Belkorp Environmental Services Inc. has given $26,900 to the provincial Liberal party since 2005, more than half of it since 2008, according to Elections B.C.'s donation database.

It's parent company, Belkorp Industries Inc., gave another $59,870 in the same time period. Belkorp Capital Inc. also gave $12,500 in 2005.

In total, Belkorp companies have given nearly $100,000 to the Liberal party since 2005.

Former B.C. finance minister Gary Collins is a senior vice president for Belkorp Industries Inc., according to the company's website.

And former deputy minister to premier Gordon Campbell, Ken Dobell, registered with the province to lobby for the company from July, 2009, to January, 2010. The lobbyist registry does not indicate who Dobell contacted on Belkorp's behalf, but the subject matter was to be “solid waste disposal.”

The province's announcement said the Bonaparte Indian Band and the Ashcroft Indian Band participated in the environmental assesment and expressed support for the project. “The B.C. government is satisfied the Crown's duties to consult and accommodate First Nations interests have been discharged,” it said.

The announcement neglected to mention that the Nlaka'pamux Nation Tribal Council's chair Robert Pasco announced in December that the tribal council is already challenging in court an earlier August, 2009, decision to extend the life of the landfill until 2012.

The Lower Nicola Band has also said it opposes expanding the landfill.

The recommendations of the executive project assessment director, John Mazure, detail the attempts made to consult with first nations and conclude that they were made in good faith and were "appropriate and reasonable in the circumstances."

Mazure recommended issuing the certificate as long as the proponents agreed to "design and mitigation" commitments.

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

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