Update. . . Editor’s note. . . PeachlandNews.com reported (below) that Peachland’s Soil Removal and Deposit Bylaw #1934 was dead after district council voted against giving third reading to the bylaw on Wednesday. In fact, Bylaw #1934 is not completely dead. Although council did not give third reading to the bylaw, it remains on the books at second reading stage. To completely kill the bylaw, council would have to rescind first and second and readings. Bylaw #1934 remains on the books at this time, at second reading stage.
by Dave Preston
District council decided Wednesday that Peachland will not be a haven for gravel pits.
Five years ago council amended the 1982 Earthworks Control Bylaw (#832) by limiting the amount of soil or aggregate from any parcel of land to 200 cubic metres per calendar year.
The amendment was approved while Peachland Self Storage was in the process of seeking a Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources permit for a proposed gravel pit on McDougald Road.
Peachland’s amendment was seen as a challenge to both the ministry and the gravel pit proponent. Council’s stance at the time was that even if the gravel pit was approved by the ministry, Peachland’s bylaw would severely limit the proponent’s ability to extract gravel.
Soon after passing the amendment, the district began working on a new Soil Deposit and Removal Bylaw (#1934) that could eventually replace Bylaw #832.
The new bylaw vastly increased the amount of soil and gravel that could be removed from any property to 100,000 cubic metres per calendar year. It also set out a fee schedule and permit terms and conditions.
Council gave first and second readings to Bylaw #1934 on February 23, 2010. It was then sent to the province for approval.
Mayor Keith Fielding called a special council meeting for Wednesday to deal with new developments over Bylaw #1934. Prior to the special council meeting, council met in-camera.
“The province conducted a review process of local government soil deposit and removal bylaws during the time the district was waiting for this approval,” CAO Elsie Lemke told council. “Subsequently, Bylaw #1934 was approved by the minister, which approval was received by the district on January 30, 2012.”
With approval from the province for the new bylaw, the next step for council would normally be giving the bylaw third reading. Soon after, fourth reading would be given and Bylaw #1934 would replace Bylaw #832.
However, as pointed out by Lemke in a report to council, going along with the former council’s policy by approving Bylaw #1934 would, in fact, pave the way for large scale operations to proceed within the District of Peachland.
“The 200 cubic metre limit, we didn’t know at the time if that was the right or wrong number,” Coun. Terry Condon said at Wednesday’s meeting.
Condon is the only sitting council member who was also a council member in 2007, when the amendment to Bylaw #832 was passed. He said the then director of operations was asked to work with existing haulers in Peachland to come up with a number that could be plugged into the bylaw.
“What we found, for the most part, is that we haven’t received any complaints,” said Condon. “That 200 cubic metre limit is workable.”
Condon pointed out that the existing bylaw (#832) contains exceptions for subdivisions and bigger development projects.
“If it’s working, why do we need to go forward with #1934?” said Condon.
Fielding said it was his understanding that, back in 2007, it was thought that the district would need another bylaw with more substance to it.
“I think #832 is what the public wants,” said Coun. Eric Hall.
“I think #1934, 100,000 cubic metres, is far too excessive,” said Coun. Cindy Fortin.
“If it isn’t broke, why fix it?” Coun. Eldon Kerbes said.
Council then voted on a motion to give third reading to Bylaw #1934. All council members present (Coun. Peter Schierbeck was absent) voted against the motion.
Bylaw #1934 is not proceeding at this time and Bylaw #832 remains in force.
In other gravel pit news, Peachland Self Storage’s request to the courts to have an injunction against operation of its gravel pit reversed was denied.
The gravel pit owner started operating its gravel pit last July. The district immediately had its lawyers seek an injunction to stop the operation and the district was successful.
Subsequently, Peachland Self Storage went before the courts to try and have the injunction removed. In a decision handed down at the end of November, a justice upheld the injunction.
By the time the decision was handed down, the McDougald Road gravel pit was closed for the season. The ministry’s permit doesn’t allow the gravel pit to operate until April.
In the mean time, the District of Peachland is preparing now to go to court over the key issue surrounding the town’s stance on gravel pits: Whether the district’s bylaw, which limits soil removal to 200 cubic metres per year per parcel, can be enforced when the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources has approved a permit for the mine to proceed.
At stake is whether provincial law or local bylaws take precedent over gravel pits.