The city’s official community plan trumps its environment advisory committee when it comes to prioritizing the drafting of a soils deposition bylaw.
Salmon Arm council received two recommendations Monday from the environment advisory committee (EMC). The first was that the city establish bylaws to regulate fill deposition. Secondly, that the city begin work on two projects, a sensitive habitat inventory and mapping (SHIM) review, and a sensitive ecosystem inventory (SEI).
Regarding the soils deposition bylaw, Coun. Alan Harris said it’s already identified in the city’s official community plan as a medium-term project, meaning it won’t be addressed for another three to five years. He wondered if the committee was asking for it to be moved ahead in priority.
“We can’t have everything be a first priority,” said Harrison. “I think everything is important to us. That’s important to me too, but we can’t do everything at once for two reasons: one, it costs a lot of money; and two, we only have so much staff to do the work.”
Coun. Chad Eliason noted that a soils bylaw has been discussed by council in the past. He said that it was initially about gravel pits, and that the city has a truck route bylaw, as well as temporary-use permits as a stopgap measure.
“What they’re looking for is where you can put fill, and I think that oversteps our boundary a bit as a municipality, when you’re talking about Ministry of Environment and Fisheries and Oceans, so at this time I will not support this motion going forward,” said Eliason.
Coun. Ken Jamieson asked how long it would take to prepare the bylaw. Six months was the estimate from development services manager Corey Paiement.
“The way the city operates right now, we don’t regulate fill deposition, but we do regulate changes to environmentally sensitive areas, which are riparian areas, so that’s already covered off in the existing official community plan,” Paiement commented.
Harrison said one of the biggest issues the city would be facing with a soil deposition bylaw is enforcement. He also noted the bylaw would not apply to First Nations land.
“That’s reasonably significant because we have lots of First Nation land within our city and very valuable ones, so I think working with the First Nations people to see if they have some type of interest in looking at some type of regulation of soil deposition on all the lands will be helpful,” said Harrison.
Council voted against the soils bylaw but were in favour of the habitat inventory and sensitive ecosystem inventory.
The vote occurred after Paiement explained that the two projects are already underway. However, the amount in the budget to date, including $2,060 in public donations, doesn’t cover the cost of both, and Paiement said city staff will be meeting with the committee to get feedback on how to prioritize.
Harrison mentioned the organization WA:TER, saying there was $20,000 in public donations available for the SHIM and SEI studies.
“That might be worth bringing up at the meeting because, if we only have $2,000, we’re $18,000 short, so hopefully that donated money is out there,” said Harrison.