A Pitt Meadows farmer will not be able to fill a piece of land he owns to improve it for farming.
The Agricultural Land Commission denied a soil deposit application to fill 2.72 hectares of a 3.96 hectare parcel filed by Brent Mehl, saying he could still grow cranberries on the land by investing more money in the property.
“The commission does not support the placement of fill on land that could be utilized for agricultural production,” wrote the commission.
“Furthermore, agriculture is a business, and like any business, it requires investment. The unwillingness of a current land owner to pursue those options is not a justification for the approval of a non-farm use.”
Although he has owned the property since 1988, Mehl has had little success growing cranberries on his property at the north end of Harris Road. The yield he said he gets from the property is never enough to cover costs.
Mehl purchased the property, cleared trees off it and had hoped to make a living from the farm.
The property, however, lies at the end of Pitt Meadows’ ditch system at a 1.2-metre elevation. As a result, Mehl said he’s never been able to flood his fields sufficiently when it comes time to harvest the cranberries.
The property also drains poorly.
By excavating 1.5 metres of peat, retaining half of it for topsoil and trucking in loose fill of 46,000 cubic metres, Mehl would be able enhance soil capabilities to support a wider range of crops or plant a tree nursery.
The commission believes the lack of water was a “farm management issue” that could be solved on site or by approaching the City of Pitt Meadows.
Golf course also denied
The Meadow Garden Golf Course will not be allowed to dump soil on its property to redevelop the driving range.
The golf course’s application to place 39,600 cubic metres of fill over 2.4 hectares was denied last month by the Agricultural Land Commission, which felt the project could cause drainage problems and affect adjacent land owners.
The commission has no objection to ongoing maintenance associated with the golf course, but does not believe the proposed redevelopment constitutes maintenance.
The placement of fill can have short- and long-term negative impacts on farmland, noted the commission.
Although the property is currently a golf course, it remains in the provincially protected agricultural land reserve. The commission felt it had to consider the possibility that the property may be converted back to farmland in the future.
It believed the amount of fill proposed was excessive.
The commission suggested the golf course reapply with a plan, prepared by a qualified professional, that reduces the amount of fill.