A new truck park proposed next to a wetland in Gloucester has neighbours worried about potential environmental damage.
During a public hearing at Langley Township council on June 27, three residents spoke in opposition to the proposal, claiming the lot will have negative effects on not only the wetland, but also on the salmon-bearing West Creek, which runs through the property.
The proposed site is on 5.5 acres in the 27200 block of 48 Avenue. A development permit has been submitted by Beedie Development Group, on behalf of a numbered company, 161884 Canada Inc., for a truck park accommodating 122 trucks, and an accessory office building, which will be occupied by family-owned trucking company, Pacific Coast Distribution Ltd.
The eastern portion of the lot has a treed environmental area that is protected from disturbance by a covenant. There are 29 significant trees identified on the property outside of the covenanted area, and all are proposed to be removed.
The applicant still needs to finalize a stormwater management plan, and an erosion and sediment control plan, which was a point of contention for the three speakers.
“My big question, is this going to turn into a South Surrey truck park? Not so many trucks, same effect,” said Walnut Grove resident Jim Armstrong, who is a professional biologist, a director of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Salmon Enhancement and Habitat Advisory Board, and a director of the Fraser Valley Watershed coalition.
Armstrong says he was asked to examine the property on behalf of those concerned about West Creek and, after walking through the area, has a number of environmental concerns.
Among them is having the trucks parked on a paved surface, where contaminated discharge will run off and “directly affect” the water quality in the creek.
He also said removing the trees will destroy a “significant wildlife corridor” and create a heatsink, and that the guidelines being used to determine setbacks for development near a fish bearing stream are out of date.
Titled ‘Guidelines for Land Development and Protection of the Aquatic Environment,’ the technical report was developed by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada in July, 1978. Armstrong believes the most recent guidelines are from 2012.
When asked by Coun. Kim Richter if there are ways to mitigate these environmental effects, Armstrong said there are.
“It’s just a matter of how you develop your site — whether you move the trucks away, whether you have interceptors to stop any runoff from the trucks,” he said.
“When you say a ‘truck park,’ they wash trucks here, too. They dump their garbage.
“There’s other examples of it, and you go into most truck parks and that’s what you see. You can have development with the environment. Development does work with the environment; it’s how it’s done.”
In light of those comments, Richter asked that staff review the proposal with the proponent and address the speakers’ environmental concerns. Her motion carried, with Mayor Jack Froese opposed.
The proponent was given an opportunity to speak at the public hearing, but no comments were made.