Saturday April 7, 2012

2012 By-Election News

Avalanche Angst

FVRD Director Bales asks candidates their stances on two local issues

Submitted by Wendy Bales, FVRD Director Area C


irst of all, let me congratulate you all for winning as candidates for your parties in this riding!


As a local government representative for Area C in the FVRD much of my electoral area overlaps into some of the provincial Chilliwack-Hope riding along with several First Nations governments.


I know that there are many timely issues in our overlapping ridings that will need to be addressed very soon by the candidate that wins this riding. We have lacked provincial representation in recent months, so I am sure that you will need to hit the ground running with all of the issues piling up.

As candidates I would like to ask that you respond on how you stand on some issues that I will list below. Since I am sure that many others would also like to know before the election, could you also respond to some of our local media as well?

If there is something that you are not up on or need clarification on please feel free to contact me. I would also be happy to set up tours before the election if that would help. I will split my questions into 2 parts and may send more in a couple of days.

Question One
Hemlock Valley just had its OCP updated along with some Bylaws last year. In this process areas of avalanche risk were identified. We were fortunate to receive a grant from MOTI to do further studies that have detailed the problem areas, some that will affect property owners and possibly random tourists that may be in the area. A few owners bought many year ago in good faith from the provincial government of the day as a future retirement or investment property. There are other crown lands that are still available in the Hemlock area, but infrastructure water and sewage is limited.

If elected, would you be willing to work out a property trade with equitable density amenities, with the current infrastructure density available for effected property owners? What would you do to help protect tourists in the area?

For a historical timeline of info see the below message that was sent to me by a Hemlock property owner;

Thank you in advance for helping to introduce the candidates running for the by-election, and lobbying them to provide a commitment to address the avalanche issues if elected. If a meeting with them could be arranged (preferably together or if not separately) we would be happy to join this meeting. We would also appreciate communicating with them by e-mail or phone. As you requested in our telephone discussion, we hope the following timeline of our involvement with our lot at Hemlock Valley will help in the lobbying effort:

  • originally this was crown land prior to the establishment of the ski resort in the 1970s

  • the Hemlock Village planning scheme was done around 1979/1980, and density and lots were allocated without proper study

  • we purchased our 4 6-plex serviced lots in the fall of 1980, approved by the Provincial Government as habitable building lots, with no hidden strings attached

  • after we purchased the property the first Avalanche Reports were undertaken in 1981 and 1982

  • other adjacent property owners were then compensated for their at-risk properties, with new, equal lots in another subdivision

  • however during our building permit application process we were forced to deal with the new conditions imposed by the reports

  • we consolidated the 4 lots into 1 large lot, and in 1981 we obtained a building permit for 24 units which was maintained in effect for approximately 6 years

  • second avalanche study / report dated 2000

  • third avalanche study / report dated 2010

  • notice of Public Information Meeting by FVRD for down-zoning our lot in November 2009

  • Public Hearing held January 2011

  • latest "final" avalanche report (by McClung) just received last week.

  • if the currently proposed new zoning is approved we will be left with a property that is effectively impossible to build on and worthless

  • we purchased the 4 lots in good faith, and the subsequent avalanche issue materialized after we applied for our building permit in 1981

  • our lots were initially included in the “no build” zone but were removed in the 1982 report after it was discovered that we had a Building Permit, - had we remained in the “no build” zone we would have received compensation at the time in the form of new lots (this seemed a bit suspicious to us)


Question Two

The Aggregate Pilot Project (APP) could affect many area residents property values health, safety, community watersheds, aquifers, salmon and other habitats, major tourist interests and road corridors to name a few things. The APP was supposed to address community conflicts as well as assure aggregate supplies. Over the last decade gravel mining has just about tripled in B.C. while meaningful regulating or enforcement has plummeted, or often left to residents to monitor. Whether because of the outdated Mines Act or the proposed APP, conflict over area pits has escalated What is your stand on the gravel issues, the proposed APP and the outdated B.C. Mines Act?

Minister Terry Lake agreed in a letter to me the cumulative impact of area pits pose a serious problem for our community watershed, which I believe could also affect the Harrison river. As well, the Auditor General put the aquifer in a high risk category. This is a watershed that local municipalities were considering as a future water source. Minister Lake also stated on the April 4th 2012 Bill good show “ If you don’t have an environment nothing else matters”. As it is also one of the world’s most important salmon habitats and a significant international tourist area as well as water source, would you be in favor of turning the local watersheds and corridor into a gravel zone? If not how would you protect the area?

MLA Hawes stated in 2005; “one of the project’s goals is to find areas of aggregate supply that are not near residences and can accommodate a plant.” 

Area creeks that run through pits have been dry this December for the first time known in recent history and yet the local pits under the APP plan could destroy the whole mountain. There have also been the dust issues effects on community health brought up. What would be your priority for the area, a continuing sustainable, healthy community and watershed with renewable selective logging or shorter term resource extraction?

MLA Hawes stated last fall on camera in a public meeting that there would be tough new regulations and penalties for gravel trucking infractions within a few weeks and that Minister Shirley Bond was working on it. We are still waiting and as you can see by a few pictures from just April 3rd and 4th of many previously submitted pictures, that truck and road safety is still a continuous ongoing problem. How would you address unsafe road and trucking issue?

Last fall there were amendments made to the Mines Act at the last sitting of the B.C. Legislature, (although I would call it a downgrade). At UBCM the Mining Act Resolution that I submitted passed on the floor by a big majority of B.C. local governments and has been discussed as a problem by many communities across B.C. (short copy is attached).


Would you lobby to amend the B.C. Mines Act in order to limit where and how much gravel extraction can happen in or next to communities, in important watersheds and tourist corridor areas?

Would you include the interests of others like community groups, First Nations and tourism groups in discussions about community resources from the start?

There is no time limit on these questions, although many would like to know who to support before the by-election and so would appreciate knowing your stand on these and other important issues.


Download the proposed Mines Act here.

Download Terry Lake Minister of Environment here.

Thank-you for your time.

Wendy Bales, Area C Director FVRD 1-604-302-8740 or by e-mail here.



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