The District of Maple Ridge has ordered a farmer who is constructing berms and roads on his property to stop such work near the edge of the North Alouette River.
Before Hang Cho can resume work within the 30-metre riparian zone, meant to protect fish habitat, he’ll have to apply for a permit.
District director of communication Fred Armstrong said Cho will not be permitted to encroach any further.
He can continue work to build roads that act like berms to protect his fields on 224th Street at 132nd Avenue, which are frequently flooded by the North Alouette River.
However, the Alouette Valley Association and Cho’s neighbours believe the fill will only exacerbate flooding in the low-lying neighbourhood.
A hydrology study done by the district, released last month, found that “raising or in-filling of land” on the flood plain displaces water and relocates the flooding problem to other properties.
“The agricultural land commission allows legitimate farmers to do work to make their farms more viable,” said Armstrong.
“What we are going to try to clarify is what is a protected farm use, what is the total extent of the road construction, and once we resolves those issues, we can report to the neighbours.”
The Agricultural Land Commission is monitoring the property with district staff.
The neighbours’ complaints and photographs of work being done in the watercourse setback area have also been forwarded to the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
“Given the information that we have, it sounds like something we will look into as our workload allows,” said Fisheries and Oceans biologist Bruce Clark.
“At this time, it doesn’t sound like something that needs our immediate attention.”
Fill application deferred
A Maple Ridge resident wants a permit to dump 7,000 loads of soil on a property where fill has already been trucked, without permission.
Last week, Maple Ridge council deferred a decision on the application by Holly Long until its next meeting, although a staff report recommends not forwarding it to the Agricultural Land Commission.
Long wants to build a house, barn and garage on the property at 28487 – 108 Avenue, but needs to raise the property to construct them.
Long has applied to place 52,073 cubic metres of fill over three hectares, or 70 per cent of the 4.3 hectare property.
Between 6,000 and 7,000 truck loads would be required to fill the land to the extent requested.
Long, however, only needs 12,321 cubic metres of fill to construct the house, barn and garage and has already dumped fill on the property without a permit.
A staff report noted the district has issued several “stop work” orders and concerns have been raised by neighbours.
Although the property is not located in the flood plain, it sits above an aquifer used to supply water to the neighbourhood.
There is also a stream that runs along the property’s eastern boundary.