Council split on decision to support farmer

Kent council sends recommendations back to drainage committee; votes to raise rural drainage levies

The minutes of the Agassiz Harrison Mills Drainage Committee meeting from were adopted at Monday night’s Kent council meeting.

But there was some concern regarding a few of the recommendations made by the committee, including support for a farmer who has taken the layout of his farmland into his own hands.

The committee recommended that council considers “supporting Mr. Guliker of 2355 Sutherland Road in his farm practices by sending supporting correspondence” to ministries involved with the upcoming Water Sustainability Act.

However, council was divided on whether to support Guliker, who reportedly blocked a waterway on his land.

Coun. Lorne Fisher and Coun. Holger Schwichtenberg opposed supporting Guliker.

“The rules apply to everyone,”  said Schwichtenberg. “Time will tell if he improved it or not.”

Council is referring two items back to the committee, for clarification.

The first is a request the district staff review extra costs and management challenges associated with environmental regulations, and a report be filed.

They also sent back a request to support the endeavor of defining the technical sections of the WSA. That document has not been released as a draft yet, council noted.

Levy to increase

Council voted to increase the rural drainage acreage levy fees in order “to restore the fiscal balance between the revenues received from levies and general taxation.”

The levy hasn’t changed since it went from $6 to $8 in 2003. It will be raised in three stages over the next three years. In 2014, the Agassiz drainage levy fee will rise to $10.10 per acre, then in 2015 it will rise to $12.19 and in third year, $14.29.

In the Harrison Mills area, which hasn’t changed since 1983 at $5 an acre, will rise in three increments as well; $5.54, $6.08 and finally $6.62.

Drainage levies are paid by 505 properties — 447 in Agassiz and 58 in Harrison Mills.

Coun. Duane Post voted against the recommendation. While he stated he agrees the levy should rise, he would have liked to see it go to the drainage committee first.

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