ALC to investigate asphalt complaint
The Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) will be investigating a public complaint about crushed asphalt being dumped on a local farm.
The complaint was filed last week by Abbotsford resident Anne Graham, who said she is concerned that the material will leach phenols and heavy metals into the soil.
"Whoever owns that property has dumped a lot of fill on that corner with asphalt... And that is a farm, over top of ground water," she told the News.
The property in question is located in the area of Clearbrook and Huntingdon roads.
Ron MacLeod, a compliance and enforcement officer for the ALC, said he couldn't comment specifically until after he competes an investigation.
"I haven't had the opportunity to get out to the site yet, but I will be going by this week."
However, he did say that the ALC does not "condone asphalt or concrete deposition within the Agricultural Land Reserve," and the only time that it would even be considered is if it is for a topping for a farm road.
"We would never allow asphalt as a fill material, because it can break down chemically."
MacLeod said he first has to establish if the owner is actually farming the property and if the material is intended for a farm road.
He said soil deposition on properties can be a "money-maker," considering all the development in the area, and the resulting need to dispose of excavated material. MacLeod said developers often pay property owners to take the fill.
"A bona fide farmer really doesn't want to change the soils on their property … If it is a bona fide farmer building a bona fide farm road, it is an authorized use so they would not be required to contact us."
If asphalt is not being used properly, property owners can remove the material voluntarily, a fine of up to $100,000 could be imposed, or an injunction could be issued to force the removal of the asphalt.
The property owner in question declined the opportunity to speak to the News.
Jim Gordon, Abbotsford's general manager of engineering and regional utilities, said the city is aware of the farm and that the landowner plans to use the crushed asphalt to create a driveway. However, he sadid the city has not issued a permit for the work.
MacLeod said he would likely be discussing the issue with the city as well.
Graham is also concerned that the city has used crushed asphalt to create a pathway along manmade Walmsley Lake located in Albert Dyck Park.
But Mark Taylor, the city's general manager of parks, recreation and culture, said there has been "no leakage of any contaminants into the lake."
Regular testing of the water is performed year-round, he said.
Because Albert Dyck Park is not in the ALR, MacLeod will not be looking into that complaint.