By Don Maroc and Richard Hughes
The Halalt First Nation has had enough of the Crofton pulp and paper mill polluting their land and water, damaging their fisheries.
The Mill has knowingly polluted the environment, especially the ocean waters between Crofton and Vesuvius on Salt Spring Island since 1957.
Sure, they filtered, scrubbed and adjusted somewhat when under pressure, but just try and go fishing out there and see how you do.
It is surprising that it has taken this long, but it is an understandable challenge for a small band to take on a huge corporate entity.
They are not alone now and they are moving forward with conviction and purpose. The Halalt lawyers claim the Catalyst Paper mill is trespassing and they want the 59 year old mill permanently shut down, plus $2 billion in cash for accumulated damages.
The Halalt, along with their business partners Sunvault Energy Inc. and Aboriginal Power Corp. are also asking the court for $100 million, plus a permanent order to stop Catalyst from building or operating an anaerobic digester on the Crofton mill’s site.
The legal action may be prompted by the rumours swirling among Bay Street financial circles that Catalyst has put together plans for permanently shutting down the Crofton mill within eighteen months. It may be hard to get blood out of the Crofton stone after it figuratively sinks below the waters of Osbourne Bay.
The Municipality of North Cowichan, which depends on Catalyst for a large chunk of its income from property taxes, is currently conducting public meetings on their 2016 budget and had better make plans for living on a much reduced income.
The North Cowichan Mayor and council members will have to come up with some very creative ideas for reducing expenditures because if they try to raise residential property taxes by 30 or 40 percent to cover the loss of money from Catalyst they’ll have a real live taxpayers’ revolution on their hands.
We’ll see if the politicians have the intestinal fortitude to do what needs to be done.
This is going to be a very significant court case with ramifications far beyond Crofton.