NDP orders new Hullcar aquifer review

New environment minister to commission independent expert to review case

The new NDP environment ministry has ordered a new review of Spallumcheen’s Hullcar aquifer.

Environment Minister George Heyman – one of three then-opposition MLAs to visit the Hullcar valley in the spring of 2016 at the invitation of the Save Hullcar Aquifer Team – announced the review Wednesday, with the end goal of ensuring, he says, that agricultural practices are consistent with the provision and protection of clean, safe drinking water.

“This is a positive first step,” said Al Price, SHAT spokesperson.

The Hullcar aquifer has been under a water quality advisory due to high nitrate levels since the spring of 2014.

An independent expert is being commissioned to lead the review, which will be due to government by the end of Sept. 7. The review will look at decisions and actions taken to-date with respect to pollution in the Hullcar aquifer. Calvin Sandborn, legal director with the University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Centre, will serve as special advisor to the reviewer.

“We would like to learn who the expert is that is being commissioned, and we hope to work closely with that person,” said Price.

“We are very happy that Calvin (Sandborn) has been included as a special advisor. Calvin and his students have done three projects with us, and have another in the queue, so Calvin is very conversant with our issue.”

For Heyman, who was joined on his trip to the North Okanagan last year by Lana Popham and Scott Fraser – now agriculture and indigenous relations ministers, respectively – providing Hullcar Valley residents with a new path forward is one of his top priorities.

“Residents need to have faith that government is listening and will be taking action to protect water quality and safety in the region while ensuring agricultural interests are protected,” said Heyman.

The review is expected to provide recommendations to help inform best practices for the agricultural sector and improvements to regulations that can be applied provincewide.

“The mayor and council are pleased to learn that the review will take place,” said Spallumcheen Mayor Janice Brown.

“Improper disposal of agricultural waste is an issue not only in our community, but elsewhere in B.C. This review provides an opportunity to find ways for a vibrant agriculture industry and safe drinking water to go hand in hand.”

The B.C. Dairy Association, representing farmers across the province, says it’s committed to ensuring economic and environmental sustainability.

“We will continue to work with provincial and local government to foster sustainable agriculture in the Hullcar region,” said Dave Taylor, B.C. Dairy Association chairperson.

Findings from the review will be posted publicly on the ministry’s website.

Just Posted

Vernon author shorlisted in B.C. historical writing competition

The BC Lieutenant-Governor’s Medal for Historical Writing will be awarded together with $2,500 to the author whose book makes the most significant contribution to the historical literature of British Columbia.

Lumby fire destroys five vehicles

Auto wrecker blaze believed to be accidental

New restaurant on The Rise in Vernon

Multi-million dollar project plans for a 30,000 square foot multi-amenity building with the restaurant and bar

A campaign encourages families to put down their phones and talk this Mother’s Day

OpenTable’s #DiningMode gets Okanagan restaurants on board with a no phone policy while dining

Vernon council will hold town-hall on downtown issues

Notice of motion on meeting put forward by councillor wins near unanimous approval

VIDEO: Driver in bizarre hit-and-run at B.C. car dealership turns herself in

Police believe alcohol was a factor in incident causing estimated $15,000 in damages

‘B.C. cannot wait for action’: Top doctor urges province to decriminalize illicit drugs

Dr. Bonnie Henry says current approach in ‘war on drugs’ has criminalized and stigmatized drug users

B.C. woman, 76, challenges alcohol-screening laws after failing to give breath sample

Norma McLeod was unable to provide a sample because of her medical conditions

New report on 2017 wildfires calls for better coordination with B.C. First Nations

Tsilhqot’in National Government documents 2017 disaster and lists 33 calls to action

Okanagan experience for the Blue Man Group

The world tour of the Blue Man Group came to Penticton this week for two shows.

B.C. youth coach banned amid sexual harassment, bullying scandal: Water Polo Canada

Justin Mitchell can’t take part in Water Polo Canada events or clubs

Wilson-Raybould: Feds want to just ‘manage the problem’ of Indigenous Peoples

Former federal justice minister speaks at First Nations Justice Council meeting in B.C.

Olympian Andi Naude retires from freestyle skiing

Penticton native skied in 62 World Cup single and dual moguls events in her career

Most Read