Harrison considers regulating soil deposits for first time

The soil deposit bylaw has been referred back to staff for more information on invasive species

Harrison Hot Springs is taking its first steps towards a ban on the dumping of “dirty dirt” in the village.

At council Monday (Nov. 4), planning consultant Ken Cossey brought forward a new Soil Removal and Deposit bylaw, that would regulate how developers and residents could deal with soil and fill materials on property within Harrison Hot Springs.

Currently, the only regulatory framework for dumping in Harrison comes from the ALC, which is only concerned with agricultural land.

“The village has no regulatory mechanisms in place to prevent an individual or company from dumping, I love this term, dirty dirt on a construction site and leaving it there,” Cossey said. “We had an example of this when I first started working here for the village, and fortunately the power of persuasion from your chief administrative officer was able to get those piles removed.”

RELATED: FVRD residents still throwing stones at gravel mining plan

The village developed the bylaw as a way to help manage soil deposits from development activities — which can see the stockpiling or removal of soil and other construction material on properties — as well as help protect Harrison’s riparian areas from soil-laden run-off.

“Through this bylaw, you can put erosion controls in place,” Cossey explained.

The bylaw also focuses on reducing impacts from contaminated fill, by prohibiting the deposition of what Cossey called “dirty dirt.”

“This can cause some financial hardships for a landowner if they decided that they’re going to take some of this free fill, and they find out it’s contaminated fill,” he said.

SEE ALSO: Government allows contaminated soil to remain at B.C.’s Shawnigan Lake

In an attempt to help regulate the movement of soil and other fill, the bylaw would require anyone moving more than 10 cubic metres of soil — about one dump truck’s worth — to obtain a $200 permit from the village. Permits would expire after two years, and applicants would need to reapply for another one.

This permit would also require a $4,000 security deposit, to allow the village to repair any damage Harrison property within 30 days of the final inspection from the village. The village would also need to be named on the company’s insurance policy, so the village can access their insurance program as well.

The goal, according to CAO Madeline McDonald, isn’t to restrict local homeowners wanting to bring in soil for their gardens or to create hardships for construction businesses that are following best practices.

“Certainly, we’re not intending to require a QEP report for every load of gravel, nor a permit for every load of gravel,” she said. “It would be more the case if somebody was taking clean fill from an unlicensed pit or wanted to relocate a whole bunch of soil from one construction project to another. Those might raise our alarm bells.”

During council’s discussion of the bylaw, councillor Samantha Piper asked if there could be more clarity on including invasive species in the definition of contaminated fill.

“I think as local government, we can have an active role in safe soil,” she said. “I think if we’re going to take an active role and create a bylaw, I think that should also be included.”

Council voted to send the bylaw back to staff for more clarification on invasive species and their role in the bylaw, as well as to make sure that permits can cover multiple types of fill for an entire project. Council will vote on first, second and third reading when it comes back to the table.


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