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