ALC decision protested

The following letter was sent to the Agricultural Land Commission by the Bertrand Creek Enhancement Society

Editor: The following letter was sent to the Agricultural Land Commission by the Bertrand Creek Enhancement Society:

RE: File 53509 – storm drainage system into Bertrand Creek

We, the members of the Bertrand Creek Enhancement Society, are disappointed by the actions of the Commission to disregard the integrity of Bertrand Creek by granting approval for the installation of a detention pond and storm drain that discharges into Bertrand Creek within the Township of Langley to drain a development in the City of Abbotsford. Your letter dated February 11, 2014 states that installing this storm drain “fulfills the Commission’s requirement that storm drainage emanating from the urban development be accommodated with the minimum possible negative impact on farmland.”

This decision will have many negative impacts to Bertrand Creek, a salmon bearing stream, and home to two endangered fish species – Salish sucker and Nooksack dace, however, as your purposes are not about protection of fish and fish habitat we wish to use this as an opportunity to inform future decisions that could result in the integrity of Bertrand Creek or other stream systems being compromised with regard to the purposes of the ALC.

As you are well aware, the purposes of the ALC are:

a) to preserve agricultural land;

b) to encourage farming in collaboration with other communities of interest; and

c) to encourage local governments, First Nations, the government and its agents to enable and accommodate farm use of agricultural land and uses compatible with agriculture in their plans, bylaws and policies.

In regards to collaboration with other communities of interest in B.C. our wild commercial fishery was valued at $300,000,000 in 2013 (source: Fast Stats 2013 – agriculture, seafood and agrifood (revised March 2015)). For our wild systems to function we must continue to have functioning or, ideally, improving ecosystems inland. Discharging potentially contaminated runoff into a salmon bearing stream is not keeping with your purpose.

The ALC Act also requires local governments to ensure its bylaws (growth strategies, official community plans and zoning bylaws, etc.) are consistent with the ALC Act. To that end the ALC ensures local municipalities are developing responsibly so that farm land is not compromised by poor infiltration of urban areas resulting in flooding, land erosion, depletion of groundwater, and a source of deleterious substances that can affect the health of livestock downstream. By allowing discharge of an urban area into Bertrand Creek the ALC is not taking responsibility to ensure downstream farmland is protected.

We are also concerned what affect this will have on these communities meeting the Agricultural and Rural Development Subsidiary Agreement (ARDSA) and if it does not affect them will there be more decisions to attack small streams through developments like this instead of taking an integrated approach to storm water management?

This approval and more like it could mean “death by a thousand cuts” to our local streams. The Bertrand Creek Enhancement Society is a non-profit watershed stewardship group dedicated to restore and revitalize Bertrand Creek as a living greenway that preserves wildlife habitat.

We request a response.

Bertrand Creek Enhancement Society, Aldergrove