West Kelowna has moved closer to adopting a bylaw to regulate the controversial issue of soil removal in the municipality.
After a lengthy discussion during its public meeting earlier this week, council gave the first three readings to the proposed bylaw.
But not before amending it to increase the minimum amount of material that can be hauled without a permit and excluding residential properties smaller that 1,500-square metres.
The minimum amount of material that can be hauled without a permit was increased to 1,000 from 500 cubic metres because that was deemed the amount most haulers could move in a day.
Rusty Ensign, who operates a hauling company and who served on the focus group that looked at the bylaw, asked for the increase in the minimum amount without a permit so West Kelowna would be competitive with surrounding jurisdictions such as the Westbank First Nation lands, Peachland and Kelowna.
In addition to the amounts that can be hauled, damage and security deposits will be required and the hauler will be required to clean up any mess left behind as a result of hauling soils.
Permit fees for hauling more than 5,000 cubic metres will be $250 and more than 25,000 cubic metres will require council approval.
According to district staff, the intent of the bylaw is to provide West Kelowna with the authority to regulate the removal and deposit of soils.
Councillors said it is not about moving small quantities but rather larger, commercial amounts.
In the past, the public has complained about traffic issues associated with hauling soils and gravel, such as noise, speed, dust and road damage from the large trucks on local roads.
The bylaw will require haulers to file route information with the district so the best routes can be negotiated, said Dave Slobodan, the district’s director of building and regulatory services.
Coun. Rosalind Neis wanted to see more defined routes put in place, but staff said by having the requirement that routes be discussed with the district means the best ones can be found.
Despite the work the district has done to get to this point, some on council felt the bylaw makes the issue unduly complicated.
“After listening to all this, I don’t know if we need a bylaw,” said Coun. Carol Zanon, noting the pages of
exemptions included in the bylaw. “There are so many exceptions. Where are the standards?”
But Coun. David Knowles described the bylaw as not perfect “but close.” Coun. Bryden Winsby summed it up by saying the municipality had to show leadership on the issue. “Often people don’t know who to call (if they have a complaint about trucks in their neighbourhood) so they will likely call the municipality. If we can take it on, that’s a good thing,” he said.