VICTORIA – A controversial Shawnigan Lake dump filled with contaminated soil will be handed over to the province to deal with.

The B.C. Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy said Wednesday that the land forfeiture by Cobble Hill Holdings to the province will not affect the landfill's closure.

The ministry says the province is initiating the forfeiture process and taking ownership of the land due to outstanding taxes.

Residents in the area have long raised concerns that the dump threatens their drinking water.

The dump was closed indefinitely in 2017 when the ministry pulled a waste discharge permit after the site's operator failed to address outstanding non-compliance issues.

The province says the change in ownership will not affect the standing spill-prevention order.

Cobble Hill Holdings remains responsible for continuing the closure plan. The ministry will continue to oversee compliance with the spill-prevention order and its implementation.

For safety reasons, people are not permitted to enter the site at any time. Entering the site could result in both injury and prosecution, the province warned.