Soil that’s trucked away from construction sites often contains debris and rubble and is not suited to dumping on agricultural land. But, that’s what has been happening in some cases. The Corporation of Delta has enacted legislation to address this and Metro Vancouver will begin tracking the movement of soil in our region.
Agricultural Land Impacted by Illegal Dumping
95% of Metro Vancouver’s agricultural land is located in 6 municipalities. But this precious resource is under threat by the illegal dumping of soil excavated from construction sites or fill.
Tracking Construction Fill a Challenge
“I looked into it and I contacted the municipalities and they said ‘Yeah, we’re having problems it’s really hard to enforce this, we don’t know where the fill’s coming from’,” explains Theresa Duynstee, a regional planner with Metro Vancouver.
To address the issue, the Corporation of Delta recently enacted a bylaw to deal with the problem of illegal fill dumping. Corporation of Delta Properties Compliance Manager Hugh Davis explains how it works.
Bylaw Officers Monitor Dumping Activity
“Now when we issue soil deposit permits, the onus is on the property owner to maintain a log of the trucks coming and going. The bylaw officer maintains a log when he’s watching the property from a distance, when he sees the trucks coming and going; records the license plate. And then goes on the site to see that those license plates are on the log the farmer has maintained. The fine for not having a truck registered on the log that we’ve seen come and go is 500 dollars per truck. It’s not out of line for us to issue thousands of dollars of fines for each truck coming and going and in a couple of occasions we’ve issued fines in excess of 20,000 dollars.”
Illegal Dumping Impacts More Than Farmland
Not only does illegal fill dumping degrade productive farmland, it can affect municipal drainage systems, and stream water quality as well. Fill can also include detritus of demolition sites, which creates risky hazards for farm equipment. Metro Vancouver is creating an online database that will help track and monitor the movement of fill across the region. The project aims to help municipalities like Delta enforce their bylaws and stop illegal dumping.
Regional Pilot Project by Spring 2016
“It’s a two year pilot project,” says Duynstee. “Each municipality gives permits for removing and depositing soil and so we need to register them and find out how much fill is being moved and where it’s being moved to.”
In order to have a robust data registry, input from all member municipalities will be essential to the pilot process.
“I think Metro Vancouver is probably the missing link that we’re looking for,” says Davis. “It’s something that’ll give us the advantage of know where that material’s coming from, currently we don’t know too much about the material until it’s on it’s way here. There’s no point in sending it out this way unless it’s going to be good for farming.”
The registry is estimated to be up and tracking the region’s fill by Spring 2016.
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