Skip to content

Land commission to decide fate of soil dumped illegally in Richmond

A farmland property owner brought in 200 truckloads of fill without a permit.
Aerial view of a Richmond farm that has applied to keep illegally dumped fill on it.

Two hundred truckloads of fill were dumped on a Richmond farm without a permit, and now the owner wants to keep the fill and improve it in order to create a blueberry farm.

Despite some hesitation from city council members, given the fact no fill permit was ever obtained, they voted 6-3 to forward the property owner’s application to the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC), which has the final say on whether the fill can stay or not.

If the ALC rejects the application, the property owner will have to remove the illegally dumped soil.

All fill applications on ALR properties need to be approved by the ALC, but only after the local municipality agrees to forward the application to the provincial agency.

Coun. Laura Gillanders, who, in the end, voted against sending the application to the ALC, said she felt “unease” approving it since the owner himself brought in the fill. She added she doesn’t want to send a message to the community that “anything goes on farmland,” that is, if a property owner dumps fill without a permit, he or she can just then apply later to keep it.

“I think we need to have a deterrent – there needs to be a message sent that that’s not okay,” Gillanders said.

“I’m okay with the ALC looking at it and the property getting cleaned up, but I’m not okay with how we’re handling it on our end because I do know there are dozens of these being investigated as we speak,” she added.

Although 1,100 cubic metres of fill was dumped on the property, at 8251 No. 5 Rd. just south of Blundell Road, no fines were ever levied by the City of Richmond or the ALC.

Coun. Carol Day suggested city council ask staff to look into whether the city could impose a fine on the property owner before the application was sent to the ALC.

“Whatever they took in tipping fees, we should be charging them in a fine – fair is fair,” Day said. “We got to send a message that you can’t get away with this.”

She added that if this owner isn’t held “accountable” there’s nothing to stop the next property owner from doing the same thing.

This, however, wasn’t supported by the majority of council and, instead, they voted to send it to the ALC.

A report to city council noted the quality of the soil that was brought in without a permit is fairly good, and the property owner plans to add compost and manure to improve it.

Council also asked city staff to look into how it could better police illegal fill dumping on farmland.

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks