A restorative justice forum that resulted in Teck Trail Operations paying out $325,000 to environmental community projects last year has been nominated for an award, according to Trail Mayor Dieter Bogs.
The Premier’s Innovation and Excellence Awards program – which recognizes excellence in public service – has turned its attention to a process undertaken after the company took full responsibility for discharging 14.8 kilograms of mercury into the Columbia River in Trail in 2010, just weeks after leachate from Teck’s lead and zinc smelting operation overflowed into Stoney Creek.
The forum that was completed last year used the principles of restorative justice and was recommended after a joint investigation under the Fisheries Act and the Environmental Management Act.
This was the first time Environment Canada participated in such a process, which resulted in funding going toward seven community environmental initiatives, including the LeRoi Community Foundation, Environmental Damages Fund, Gyro Park’s Spray Park Water Recycling Project and Bear Aware.
“It was a good process to resolve an issue that affected the community, instead of going into a lengthy court proceeding and then the money going into the court system,” said Bogs.
“When it was determined what these two spills would likely represent in terms of court charges, those funds were then available to community projects and that to me is the way it should be done.”
This is not the first time a process in Greater Trail has been nominated for an award under the provincial program, which tells the stories of notable accomplishments and methods to achieve them.
The Trail Health and Environment Committee –Teck, Interior Health and the Ministry of Environment – was not only nominated but also won a Premier’s Innovation and Excellence Award for Partnership in the Interior/North Region of B.C. last year.
The committee was selected for exemplifying cooperation between government, community and the private sector.