Cowichan Tribes has taken issue with what it described as the illegal removal of gravel and the dumping of waste on its Indian Reserve #1.
The Duncan-area First Nation, through legal counsel, has sent letters to a number of construction and trucking companies whose vehicles were photographed and videotaped attending on Cowichan Tribes’ IR #1 reserve lands.
A press release from the First Nation and the Victoria-based law firm Woodward and Co. stated that the vehicles were extracting gravel and/or dumping residential and commercial waste on the reserve lands, without the express authorization from Cowichan Tribes.
“The extraction of gravel from, and the dumping of waste of any kind on Cowichan’s reserve lands without express authorization from Cowichan Tribes is illegal,” the press release said.
“The resources of Cowichan’s reserve lands belong to Cowichan Tribes, and taking gravel, timber or other resources without our express authorization amounts to theft. It also deprives our community of a valuable economic opportunity and encourages more of the same activity.”
The press release said that the Cowichan area does not have receiving facilities, landfills or disposal facilities to accommodate dumping of any kind, including soil, wood waste, construction waste, or household garbage.
“The dumping of residential and commercial waste on our reserve lands is illegal, a hazard to the environment, detrimental to the health and safety of our members and brings a financial burden to our community,” it said.
“It is also a violation of our Waste Management Bylaw, which can result in a fine of $1,000 per occurrence. Cowichan Tribes will not tolerate any gravel extraction or dumping of waste on its reserve lands. We are working with neighbouring municipalities and the RCMP to continue to identify those who are taking part in these illegal activities, take all necessary enforcement action to prevent these activities, and ensure that these companies account for their actions. Additionally, any companies or individuals engaging in these activities on our reserve lands will not be eligible for any Cowichan Tribes contracts.”
The press release said Cowichan Tribes is fully prepared to pursue all available remedies against any companies or individuals who take part in these activities, including civil actions in court and fines under its bylaws.