Environment Industry Association critical of $20,000 fine for Abbotsford man

The BC Environment Industry Association (BCEIA) has condemned the sentence given last week to an Abbotsford man who had been charged with 52 environmental offences.

Association director David Rogers, who chairs the group’s hazardous waste committee, said the $20,000 fine issued to Ed Ilnicki is “sending the wrong message.”

“We are upset at how low the fine is and we do not see it as a deterrent to others,” he said.

The BCEIA consists of businesses related to environmental stewardship and sustainable development. Its website says it has been ”protecting the environment since 1992.”

Ilnicki, 63, pleaded guilty to three charges of failing to retain a qualified expert – as ordered by the ministry of environment – to document potentially hazardous materials at two properties in Abbotsford in 2006.

The remaining 49 charges, including 35 related to hazardous waste disposal, were stayed.

Rogers said a more meaningful sentence would have been a $35,000 to $50,000 fine, which is what it would have cost to hire the consultant.

Rogers said this would have sent a stronger message to environmental service companies that cut costs by not following all the regulations.

These businesses are able to charge less for their services, making them more appealing to hire, but this creates a risk to public safety and the environment due to their unsafe practices, he added.

He said the other factor is the impact on taxpayers when government is forced to clean up a mess made by a company. Rogers pointed to the almost $1 million that the ministry of environment paid to clean up a previous site – on Industrial Avenue in Abbotsford – where Ilnicki operated as Canadian Petroleum Corp.

The site was declared an environmental emergency in 2005 due to materials left behind when the company moved the previous year. Also in 2005, Ilnicki pleaded guilty to two offences related to that property and his company was fined $10,000, which he has not yet paid.

The BCEIA will discuss the issues at its next directors meeting and hopes to set up a meeting with the ministry of environment.

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