A P.E.I. cabinet minister’s husband has been charged with violating buffer zone laws.
Alex Docherty, owner of Skye View Farms Ltd. in Elmwood, was charged under the Environmental Protection Act with “cultivating a row crop within 200 meters of a watercourse boundary or wetland boundary,” according to documents filed in provincial court last week.
Docherty, a seed potato farmer, is married to Community Services and Seniors Minister Valerie Docherty.
The issue of buffer zone violation around waterways has been a sensitive one in P.E.I. Hundreds of fish were killed in the Trout River for the second year in a row earlier this summer. After the fish kill in the same river last year, Mount Royal farmer Warren Ellis was charged under the same section of the Environmental Protection Act as Docherty.
Ellis’ charges were later dismissed.
But the provincial government has taken a hard stand on the continuous problem with fish kills in P.E.I. waterways. During a news conference announcing a new action committee to work on the issue last week, Agriculture Minister George Webster said buffer zone legislation is the bare minimum in protecting Island waterways from runoff events.
Documents filed in provincial court this week say Docherty’s violation is alleged to have occurred at 9:35 a.m. on July 16 and pictures and potato plant samples were seized as evidence.
Docherty’s company was issued a $10,000 summery offense ticket.
Docherty said he did not want to discuss the charge at this time, but did say he is considering contesting it.
“It’s all up to my lawyer,” he said.
Despite being faced with a hefty fine, Docherty was quite cheerful when speaking with The Guardian Tuesday.
“I love life, that’s about the only comment I’ll make,” he said.
Government officials declined to comment on the issue, saying they did not want to speak to an issue while it is before the courts.
Docherty has until August 29 to decide whether to pay the fine or contest the charge in court.