Ex-MLA ap­proved for ir­ri­ga­tion project 3 weeks be­fore en­vi­ron­men­tal charges

Regina Leader-Post - - CITY + REGION - D.C. FRASER dfraser@post­media.com

For­mer Kin­der­s­ley MLA Bill Boyd was granted an ir­ri­ga­tion ap­proval by the prov­ince’s Wa­ter Se­cu­rity Agency just three weeks be­fore four en­vi­ron­men­tal charges against the one-time cab­i­net min­is­ter were brought to light.

Boyd was charged Aug. 30 with one count of al­ter­ing wildlife habi­tat and three counts re­lated to river­bank al­ter­ation. The first in­ci­dent is al­leged to have hap­pened April 1 and May 3 while in­ves­ti­ga­tors said the oth­ers hap­pened be­tween June 15 and July 15.

But in be­tween the al­leged in­frac­tions and the charges, an Ap­proval to Op­er­ate Works was granted to a num­bered com­pany reg­is­tered to Boyd’s son, Re­gan, on Aug. 9. The work was for an ir­ri­ga­tion project on the Boyds’ land.

The land ad­ja­cent to that which Boyd was granted ap­proval to ir­ri­gate is pro­tected wildlife habi­tat land — the same land he is al­leged to have al­tered, ac­cord­ing to the charges laid against him.

NDP en­vi­ron­ment critic Cathy Sproule says that raises more ques­tions about the file.

“Why was (Boyd) be­ing charged and why was the WSA in the process of ap­prov­ing (the project)?” she said, sug­gest­ing the left hand and right hand of the Min­istry of En­vi­ron­ment should talk more of­ten.

In a let­ter at­tached to the ap­proval, which was ad­dressed to Mr. Bill R. Boyd, a se­nior tech­ni­cian for ground­wa­ter ap­provals, li­cens­ing and wa­ter use with the WSA, wrote that Boyd was “granted the right to use 119.2 cu­bic de­came­tres of wa­ter an­nu­ally for Ir­ri­ga­tion pur­pose use only.”

In that ap­proval, the de­scrip­tion of ser­vice wa­ter works sec­tion says it would in­clude “in­take works, associated pumps, buried pipe­lines, an ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tem, valves and ac­ces­sories to con­vey wa­ter from the South Saskatchewan River for Do­mes­tic (Ir­ri­ga­tion) pur­poses.”

The prov­ince said it won’t com­ment be­cause the mat­ter is be­fore the courts and that an Ir­ri­ga­tion Cer­tifi­cate will be is­sued for each ir­ri­ga­tion project that meets soil and wa­ter com­pat­i­bil­ity stan­dards and for which the ap­pli­ca­ble fees have been paid.

Prior to be­ing charged, Boyd was in hot wa­ter for trav­el­ling to China on a pri­vate busi­ness trip pro­mot­ing an ir­ri­ga­tion project on his land.

In meet­ing with po­ten­tial in­vestors, Saskatchewan gov­ern­ment lo­gos were used and Boyd was re­ferred to as a cab­i­net min­is­ter, even though he did not hold a cab­i­net po­si­tion.

In Au­gust, fol­low­ing news about Boyd’s China trip, the long­time MLA an­nounced his re­tire­ment.

Weeks later, he was ex­pelled from the Saskatchewan Party cau­cus af­ter the prov­ince’s con­flict of in­ter­est com­mis­sioner ruled Boyd had vi­o­lated con­flict of in­ter­est laws in trav­el­ling to China and pro­mot­ing an ir­ri­ga­tion project on his land.

Boyd’s charges re­late to al­leged al­ter­ing wildlife habi­tat by cul­ti­vat­ing an area of na­tive grass­land, al­ter­ing the banks of the South Saskatchewan River, adding or re­mov­ing ag­gre­gate from the river and re­mov­ing veg­e­ta­tion from the banks.

Boyd’s le­gal mat­ters are back on the court docket Nov. 7.

Why was (Boyd) be­ing charged and why was the WSA in the process of ap­prov­ing (the project)?

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