The final significant item to be considered on December 10th’s afternoon meeting was Mayor Jack Froese’s motion to reconsider the Walia’s Soil Deposit endorsement to the Agricultural Land Commission.
At the November 19, 2018 afternoon meeting, staff did NOT recommend that Council refer this application to the ALC. The non farm use application was regarding 1400 truckloads going down either 224th Avenue or 64th Avenue to deliver soil. According to the proponent, the purpose of the soil is to elevate the landscape for the purpose of growing a new tree farm. The reason that staff did NOT recommend referring to the ALC is because the petition sent out to neighbours did not reach the necessary 80% threshold to trigger endorsement. In fact, they only received 47% support. There was no debate on at the Nov. 19 reading and the motion carried unanimously (meaning that it would NOT go to the ALC). My understanding is that only a Mayor can bring back a motion for reconsideration (please correct me if I’m wrong), so it was up to Mayor Froese to explain the motion for reconsideration:
Mayor Froese explained that he had since heard from the proponents and they explained that they were trying to improve the land for farm use purposes and that they were sure that could work with the neighbours to improve the petition. Later in the afternoon, Councillor Kunst mentioned that some people she heard from had just received the petition on the day of the decision due to the postal strikes (the petition did have a fairly low turnout rate of 21%).
The Mayor outlined the four options available to Council:
- refer this back to staff for a re-petition.
- refer it back to staff for more information.
- stay with the current vote
- endorse the referral to the ALC despite staff objection
The Mayor suggested that referring it back to staff for re-petition was his preferred choice, but he also wanted staff to report back to council how the soil policy has been working since adoption.
While Councillor Davis supported the Mayors proposal, Councillor Arnason was worried about setting a precedent regarding reconsideration without compelling new information. There are costs involved with a new petition and it was the proponents choice to move forward with the application knowing they had not reached the 80% threshold. Councillor Long agreed, feeling that re-petitioning was not a good use of staff time since the original petition is not even close to the 80%.
Councillor Richter also stated that she couldn’t support the proponent without new information, but would like to see the recommended report. Councillor Woodward pushed for a deferral of the re-petition so that Council could receive the report on the policy, perhaps receive additional information before making a decision on this particular situation.
Council DEFERRED the first part of the motion to refer the soil deposit application back to staff for a re-petition in a 8-1 vote with Councillor Richter opposed.
Council CARRIED the second part of the motion to receive a report on the 2-year-old soil deposit policy.