RIPARIAN AREA PROTECTION NEEDED IN NEW OCP

Victor Froese, February 2013

The sign below is found at the end of Browne Road where it extends over the
dyke into what is known as a wetland or riparian area. The City of Chilliwack’s
Riparian Bylaw 3249 supposedly protects such areas.

The bylaw is introduced by the following statement: All lands within the
boundaries of the City of Chilliwack are designated as a Development Area for
the purpose of protecting the natural environment, its ecosystems and biological
diversity, and in particular fish and fish habitat and riparian habitat, in accordance
with Section 919.1 of the Local Government Act.
No Dumping Sign
My daily dog walk took me past the sign above and I began to wonder why City
of Chilliwack trucks had been dumping materials into this wetland area over the
past dozen years. I photographed one of these events of active dumping and
sent the photos together with the following questions to the city.
City Cleanup of Dumping
City equipment buries materials dumped earlier – November 2012

I asked: After reading Bylaw 3249, No. 2588 I have the following questions:
1. Does the city consider itself to be regulated by this bylaw?
2. Is the activity to which I refer above not considered under the definitions of
“development” or do you consider it to be “exempted”(p.5)?
3. Was a riparian assessment done by a QEP? If so, what was the conclusion?
4. Do you agree that the area in question could be classified as Watercourse
Classification A and/or B?
5. Was a Development Permit prepared by the city to allow it to dump materiasl
into and A or B area which is within the 30 meter setback?
6. Was the possible HADD approved under the Fisheries Act?
7. Do you know which species are found and have been documented in this
wetland?

The questions and photos were sent to Tara Friesen, Karen Stanton and Kurt
Houlden at different times between Dec. 4/12 and Dec. 23/12 but no response
was received. On Jan. 9/13 I contacted Councilor Jason Lum to attempt to find
out why there was no reply. On Jan 18/13 I received a response from David
Blain, Director of Planning and Engineering (the complete letter may be found here: David Blain letter). Some key paragraphs are quoted below:

Your suggestions and concerns have been reviewed by the Planning and
Engineering Departments. As part of our current OCP review, the City
is reviewing mapping and policy amendments to identify and protect
environmentally sensitive areas. The wetland you have referenced lies within
the Vedder River Management Area (VRMA), and it is anticipated that high
level policies will be identified in the OCP for the VRMA as a whole, rather
than individual sites (for example, the wetland) within the VRMA.

With respect to your concern about the organic material that has been placed
adjacent to the parking area at the north end of Browne Road, this matter has
been reviewed. The material dumped there in November was from a nearby hillside slide that required immediate response during the night. Some of the
material has already been removed from the site, but the remainder will also
be taken away and the vegetation reinstated. There have been discussions
among municipal departments to ensure materials are not placed at that site in
the future. (Red colour added for emphasis.)

Thank you again for your interest in preserving habitat values along the
Vedder River corridor. If you have any further questions about the OCP
process, they can be directed to Karen Stanton (stanton@chilliwack.com).
Questions about the Vedder River Management Area and Committee can be
directed to Tara Friesen (tfriesen@chilliwack.com).

While this goes some way to address the observed problem, the questions
were not answered. I have again contacted Councillor Lum and indicated to
him that I would like the questions answered. It is critical to know if the City
actually feels bound by its own bylaws; our previous VMPG experiences
raise serious questions about that principle.

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