Walmart Canada’s application to use agricultural land east of Sicamous to store trucks and trailers on failed to garner the support of the Columbia Shuswap Regional District.
At their Thursday, June 18 regular board meeting, a majority of CSRD directors opted not to back the big box retailer’s application to the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) for use of property, located at 3785 Malakwa Rd., for a trucking yard.
If approved by the ALC, Walmart’s plan is to fill and grade 2.79 acres of the 6.4 acre property. They also plan to install security fences, an office building and two access points off of Bertholm Road.
If it is completed as planned, the truck yard could be parking for about 50 trailers.
In their report to the CSRD board, regional district development services staff recommended not to support the application. Among staff’s reasons for the denial: the proposal is not an appropriate use of agricultural land and there are other properties along the Trans-Canada Highway corridor not within the Agricultural Land Reserve that could be used for what Walmart is proposing.
As she owns a neighbouring property, that includes the Malakwa Cafe, Electoral Area E director Rhona Martin declared a conflict of interest and did not discuss or vote on the matter. The remaining directors agreed with staff’s position except for Salmon Arm director and city councillor Chad Eliason, and Sicamous director and Mayor Terry Rysz.
Although the Malakwa property is within the ALR, it had been the site of a motel, permitted by the ALC, which was built in the 1960s. According to a report attached to the agenda of the June 18 board meeting, the motel was demolished in 2018.
It is also noted in the CSRD report the property is within the flood plain of the Eagle River.
According to CSRD emergency management, changing the flood plain in this area has the potential to negatively impact neighbouring properties during a flood on the river.
The report states the CSRD does not currently regulate development within the flood plain through zoning or development permits in Electoral Area E. The regional district’s building department has indicated a geotechnical hazard assessment and covenant would be required in support of a building permit application for the proposed office.
The CSRD board’s recommendation will now be passed along to the ALC, which will then make a decision on non farm use of the land. An access permit from the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure would also be required for the access points off Bertholm Road.