Council supports soils removal and deposition bylaw

Sicamous council is having a soils removal and deposition bylaw prepared for that municipality.

Where Salmon Arm council is supporting a soils removal and deposition bylaw proposed by the CSRD, Sicamous council is not only offering its support, but having a similar bylaw prepared for that municipality.

In August, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District gave first reading to the bylaw, intended to regulate larger scale commercial and industrial operations in the regional district that remove more than 350 cubic metres of soil per year.

The bylaw was referred to the City of Salmon Arm and the District of Sicamous for input.

Salmon Arm development services director Corey Paiement explained that city staff had no concerns with the CSRD bylaw, though he did note that the regulation within the CSRD could create soil removal and deposition issues within the city, which currently has no soils bylaw.

“That said, lands within the Agricultural Land Reserve there are restrictions on deposit of soil; as well, the city does have restrictions on the deposit of soil within environmentally sensitive areas,” commented Paiement, noting Salmon Arm’s new official community plan identifies at least a review of such a bylaw.

Despite staff stating it has no concerns, Coun. Kevin Flynn did. He reiterated the possible issue raised by staff, but said his greater concern was that the CSRD bylaw would result in greater pressure falling on Salmon Arm for more gravel pits.

“If this city was concerned then we would develop our own bylaw – that’s how I would approach that,” replied Paiement, noting the bylaw wouldn’t stop extraction from occurring within the regional district – that is the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Energy and Mines.

Sicamous district staff also supported the CSRD bylaw, stating it poses no issues for the district. However, community planner Steve Noakes said the proposal did pose an opportunity for council to discuss whether or not they wanted to move forward on a similar bylaw for the district. Noakes explained having such a bylaw would create a permit process that would give the district some control over what is being proposed and what impact it may have.

“You would then have a little bit of control over things like noise, dust, hours of operation, haul routes which does affect local roads… It does give you a little bit of input, certainly from the community perspective, to be able to have a say as to how these operations are carried out,” said Noakes. “But I think the biggest thing to look at is it would establish consistency throughout the area.”

Council reflected on how the bylaw might have impacted existing issues and operations in the district, and concluded it is a worthwhile pursuit.

“I think this is something that we should have because, I wouldn’t want to have an operating gravel pit in my neighbourhood because of increased traffic, but also because of all the dust that comes out, especially if there’s screening there,” commented Coun. Fred Busch. “If we’re going to be surrounded by this bylaw, then I see no reason why we shouldn’t adopt it.”

District administrator Alan Harris emphasized that a soils removal and deposition bylaw is not intended to stop development, but to give the district more control over what is taking place.