Government agencies behaving badly again

Editor, The News:

Re: Farmland being dumped on (The News, July 22).

For years I have been a big supporter of the Agricultural Land Commission, believing that the preservation of farmland is an absolute necessity for our future food security.

This is born out yet again the latest, somewhat alarming report  just released by the United Nations (World Economic and Social Survey, 2011).

The ALC has been under considerable pressure from development interests and has, in many instances, done a good job in holding firm against these pressures.

Part of the ALC’s mandate is to support the activities of farmers. The commission  has the power to authorize the farmer to undertake works such as road building or berm building without the blessing of the local authorities.

However, that power does come with certain rules and responsibilities:

• before a project such as berm building is authorized, the local authority must be notified and consulted.

Also, such work must not cause danger on or to adjacent land, structures or rights of way, or foul, obstruct or impede the flow of any waterway.

These rules are particularly important when the activities are to occur in an area which is subject to flooding.

The District of Maple Ridge has just released its long awaited hydrology study, produced by NorthWest Hydraulic Consultants. The most important  finding in the report is that berming and filling around the rivers will cause the most danger to homes in the area.

Over the past year, the two properties on 224 Street,  immediately north of the North Alouette River, have been bermed by the owner.

The Alouette Valley Association has written to and met with both that ALC and the District of Maple Ridge and explained that there is a very high degree of certainty that these berms will directly affect nearby homes and cause much greater flooding than previously experienced.

The NHC study has validated the AVA assertion.

Okay, so they did not believe a bunch of residents, but why ignore the consultant’s study?

Since the study has been released, hundreds of additional loads have been dumped at the site and there seems to be no end in sight.

Despite the berms already being in place, the dumping continues unabated under the guise that roads are needed for the farm operation.

Recently, AVA wrote to the ALC to request an onsite meeting.

The key questions for the ALC are:

• what do hundreds of loads of fill have to do with farming?

• why does it continue to support an activity that contravenes the agricultural act?

• why does it think fill farming for profit is more important than peoples homes?

• what are its plans to resolve the problem?

Sadly, so far the request has been ignored.

Fill farming is the practice of being paid to dump construction waste on a property.

Nobody knows what is in the fill that is being deposited. Much of it is within metres of the North Alouette River.

The practice of uncontrolled dumping fill of next to an important salmon bearing river should not be tolerated.

Bruce Hobbs

Maple Ridge