The wheels of government move slowly: more about that illegal road

The wheels of government move slowly: more about that illegal road

Location of the illegal road on the ALR, Hemlock Street, Powell River - A. Bryant
This is the infamous “looped road” at the top end of Hemlock Street. This Google Earth aerial photo dates from 17 April 2011. The road is complete but not yet paved. I converted and uploaded a shapefile overlay from the ALC to illustrate the transgression.

The wheels of government move slowly…
but they do move…
and sometimes, if you insist on standing still, they’ll run over your toes!

This story has been a long time brewing.  I’ve written about it before, here and here.

Way back in 2010, a local developer managed to construct an illegal road on a neighbour’s property…it’s illegal because said neighbour’s property happens to be within the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR).

Oops.

The story made the Powell River Peak in March 2018 under the headline “City of Powell River hits roadblock with land commission“.   Three weeks later I appeared as a “delegation” before the Committee of the Whole (COW).  My presentation was perhaps optimistically entitled “a possible resolution of ALR woes“. 

You can view it by clicking on the photos at right.  In retrospect, it wasn’t my best effort.  I went over-time and got bogged down in historical detail.  I should have started with the solution first.  In any event, the idea flew like a lead balloon and didn’t land well.

My idea was a what-if?
What if the collective “we” went back to the Commission and said:

“listen, we messed up…we really did…but hey…
Rather than point fingers or inconvenience hundreds of people who use that road daily by tearing it up…not to mention the huge costs involved in doing that…
Why don’t we build that treatment plant on the Old Golf Course just as we planned…and then ask to transfer the remainder of those lands into the ALR?
Wouldn’t that be a more appropriate, progressive, scientifically-valid, and mutually-beneficial penalty that completely acknowledges our screw-up?
Pretty-please?”

The idea went nowhere.

Wow!

So here we are six months later.  It’s November.  Just when I should be thinking about important things like Christmas Bird Counts and Black Friday and such, fate intervened.  Several documents found their way into my mailbox.  They are as follows:

  1. Internal report from David Assels (Compliance and Enforcement Officer) to Kim Grout (CEO, Agricultural Land Commission) dated 18 Oct 2018,
  2. Attachments to said report, including photographs, maps and prior correspondence dating back to 2016, and finally,
  3. Remediation Order to the City of Powell River dated 22 Oct 2018 but based on a decision apparently made earlier.

I encourage readers to examine all of the documents in full.  If you’re in a hurry, perhaps the key point is best expressed on page 4 of the Remediation Order, which states:

There’s even a deadline.  Or, more precisely, two deadlines:

  • The “removal of fill” and a “report by a qualified professional” needs to happen “no later than Feb 28, 2019”.
  • “The above requirements must be completed by August 31, 2019 unless prior to that time,  I agree in writing to vary this Remediation Order.”
Ouch.

Now that’s gonna leave a mark.
In financial, legal and (most stupidly of all) in ecological terms.
Personally, I think mine would have been a more elegant solution…

But that’s just my opinion

Now, about that Christmas Bird Count…

We’re still waiting for some effective leadership on that front too…