All Holly Long and her family want is to follow the recommendations of a hydrologist and spread gravel on their east Maple Ridge property, build a new house and barn so stormwater runs back into a ditch and soaks back into the aquifer.
But Maple Ridge council disagrees and recently nixed sending an application to the Agricultural Land Commission to haul 47,305 cubic metres of structural fill on to Long’s four-hectare lot at 28487 – 108th Ave.
And what bothers Long just as much is that council made its decision without seeing the hydrologist’s report.
The family wants to build a new home, garage and farmhand residence and a barn on the property. They’re selling their property in Mission where they also raise a few cattle and want to continue the operation at their new residence.
To improve drainage and allow construction of a home with a basement and a smaller footprint and make it easier to install geothermal heating, they want to raise the elevation on which the buildings will sit as well as a portion of the land around the buildings.
However, the District of Maple Ridge only wants to allow the elevation raised under the immediate footprint of the new buildings.
According to a district staff report, despite a reduction in the proposed amount of fill to be hauled, the application still should be denied, and says that the reduced amount of 34,983 cubic metres across a quarter of the site is still more than needed for construction of the buildings.
Long says she hasn’t received any stop-work orders from the district but doesn’t know what to do now and has been told by the Agricultural Land Commission to get an agrologist’s report.
“It’s taking us months and a lot of money to work between the agencies.”
An earlier district report said stop-work orders were placed on the property, but that has since been corrected and verbal notification only was given, with the work being stopped as a result.
In their own report to council, the family points out traffic already uses the road, both industrial and residential.
She also points out that as owners of AT&H Industries, they have the expertise for hauling the gravel and bringing it on to the site safely.
While a district staff report also says residents are worried about the effects on their water wells, a hydrology report commissioned by the owners says the sediment control plan is adequate and adds that there will be enough groundwater to supply a deep well on site, although the report doesn’t specifically address effects on the aquifer.
District staff also note that the report doesn’t address soil compaction and how that might affect the underground water supply and suggests that a properly designed stormwater management system would achieve the same effect without hauling large volumes of gravel.
Long pointed out that initially, the family proposed just bringing in fill for beneath the footprint of the buildings but were told by the district to get a report, which led to the expanded footprint.
The ALC also says that fill hauled in for buildings shouldn’t exceed .2 ha while the area that will be raised by the filling is 1.36 ha.