STOP Beasley Land Use Amendment Application from Country Residential to Agricultural 4
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Residents of Falls Creek Estates in Beasley wish to oppose the raise the following concerns regarding the RDCK Planning file Z1801F submitted by Kyle Wiebe (Applicant, Land Owner, and Developer) and the proposed Land Use Amendment from Country Residential to Agriculture 4 (AG4). The following parcels of land are included in the above noted rezoning application:
A) Falls Creek/Bain Road: DISTRICT LOT 7360 KOOTENAY LAND DISTRICT EXC (1) PCL A EXPL PL 31211I & (2) PLS 2736 14298 & NEP70946 (PID: 008-994-757); and,
B) 4745 Beasley Road: LOT 2 PLAN NEP2736 DISTRICT LOT 7360 KOOTENAY LAND DISTRICT (PID: 015-178-081)
This area is currently zoned as Country Residential. Changing the zoning to Agricultural 4 (AG4) on these upland properties, slated as Country Residential (residential), would not be in the best interest of anyone within the residential areas of Falls Creek, Bain Road, nor neighbours on Lower Beasley Road. We believe this amendment to be a major significant change to the surrounding land use, with considerable consequences. The word ‘amendment,’ minimizes the consequences for surrounding residents. A change in land zoning of a property located in the middle of country residential area would likely have a negative effect on all of the surrounding country residential properties. Agricultural zoned lands are incompatible with residential properties relying on groundwater as their main source of water from both a supply and quality concern perspective.
We understand the proposed development by BC Meatworks (the developer) is intending to develop these parcels as a commercial farm, with 3,000 chickens to start, with a possible increase in scale of operations; including (but not limited to) future plans for a sheep farm, slaughterhouse, cidery, and a small market and meat shop for farm-gate sales. The small scale chicken quotas for AG4 allows up to 12,000 chickens. The development application should not be granted based on the developer’s stated intentions but rather those actions legally permissible on the property. We find the intention to maintain and slaughter 3,000 birds to be deceitful, as once zoning, permits, and quotas have been obtained, there will be nothing in place to prevent increasing the flock to 12,000. The residents of Falls Creek have a restrictive covenant preventing the keeping of farm animals and are restricted to three (3) domestic animals. Allowing thousands of birds on the adjacent properties does not align with the restrictions already in place within the neighbourhood. To be clear, the surrounding country residents do not want or agree to the raising and slaughtering of 3,000 birds or rezoning these land parcels for commercial agriculture use.
A development or rezoning must consider whether the intended use of the proposed development will improve the land and surrounding area in an integrated manner. This proposed rezoning and potential development does not improve anything for surrounding residents and only has long-term detrimental effects to neighbouring residential properties including; contamination of the soil, air, and groundwater; negative effects from odour and noise, reduction in safety, decreased property values, and loss of the Chartered Right to enjoy residents’ properties.
Furthermore, initial communication regarding the proposed development was not forthcoming and isolated only to property owners directly surrounding the parcels proposed for rezoning, until further concerns were raised by many residents within Beasley. The land use amendment letter issued by the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) for the residents in the area is very general and does not provide a description of the developer’s intention. Our concerns are as follows:
- Possible groundwater contamination;
- Scarcity of water within development area and the addition of a commercial scale operation using our precious water source in a subdivision solely reliant on groundwater wells;
- Excess noise and odour;
- Increased commercial and public traffic through a quiet neighbourhood with many young families raises safety issues;
- Increased wear and tear on the road (who will maintain and pay for heavy equipment usage and increased traffic, causing increased degradation to the road surface);
- Decreased property values resulting from a slaughterhouse located in what is known as a desirable, quiet, mountainside community with historically rising/holding property values;
- Wildlife issues (increased predation, decreased corridor connectivity for ungulate populations); and
- Decreased enjoyment of one’s property.
Possible groundwater contamination is a serious concern for this neighbourhood for any agricultural operation (i.e, manures, fertilizers, chemical contaminants, etc.) posing serious threats to our health. There is a lot of runoff in the spring down the access road within the upper land parcels proposed for rezoning, with low lying areas where small ponds form through the spring and early summer from additional run-off upslope.
Slaughterhouse wastewater is very harmful to the environment. Effluent from slaughterhouses has also been known to contaminate both surface and groundwater. Furthermore, the pollution potential of meat-processing and slaughterhouse plants is considerable as blood, fat, manure, urine, and meat tissues are lost to wastewater streams, leaching into groundwater. The slaughtering operation is the largest single source of waste load in an abattoir, and blood is the major contributor. Blood is rich in Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD), chlorides, and nitrogen.
In processing and quality control at an abattoir, water helps to clean the product, to convey and remove unwanted materials. Therefore, not only are large quantities of water are used in abattoirs, substantial amounts of wastewater are generated, heading straight down into our neighbourhood and groundwater.
Water sources and shortages have already been an issue for Falls Creek Estates. In a subdivision of approximately 20 developed lots, there are 5 developed wells on one property alone because the developer had trouble finding water for the properties within the subdivision. Other residents have run out of water in situations where they share pump houses with neighbouring properties/families while other individuals have had to develop wells deeper in recent years. Needless to say, there is a history of poor planning from a development perspective to just push something through, without any foresight about the consequences and availability of water. When a resident enquired many years ago about the 5 wells on their property, all regulatory bodies (i.e., IHA, MOTI, RDCK) and real estate agents and lawyers involved in the legal agreement for the creation of our subdivision, could not find all the information pertaining to development of these wells and were appalled as to why this was ever allowed to be pushed through. This is a perfect example of why we cannot allow RDCK to just push rezoning through without a feasibility study or further consideration to the consequences of the proposed rezoning. It is unlikely that our aquifer can support agricultural water usage requirements and there is a considerable possibility for leachate of contaminants into our groundwater with ANY commercial agricultural development upslope of a subdivision, solely reliant on groundwater wells.
Excess noise and odour from a large scale poultry farm and slaughterhouse will become an annoyance or a nuisance to the surrounding neighbourhoods and properties by reason of unsightliness through the admission of noise, odours, liquid effluents, dust, fumes, smoke, and vibrations. The government of British Columbia has a document online (https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/farming-natural-resources-and-industry/agriculture-and-seafood/farm-management/structures-and-mechanization/300-series/384200-11_management_of_noise_on_poultry_farms.pdf) regarding the very real issues of noise from poultry farms with respect to neighbours and as such, it is obvious that poultry farms produce very real problems for adjacent land owners.
Large chicken farming operations cause odours and emissions of ammonia, hydrogen sulfide and poultry dust, containing bacteria, bacterial toxins, and chicken skin debris. We experience air movement on the mountainside that moves up in the daytime and down at night. Anyone living above or below will have issues with the odour produced from a large scale agricultural operation, especially a slaughterhouse. In Falls Creek Estates we get a lot of southern exposure. In the summer months, the only way to cool a house down is by opening all the windows when the evening downdraft starts. This development would impact our air quality significantly throughout the neighbourhood.
Increased traffic through a quiet, small, residential family neighbourhood is also of concern. The developer proposes egg sales, slaughterhouse activities, building a small market and meat shop for farm-gate sales, and a cidery. This will add tourist, commercial and overweight traffic in and through our tranquil mountain residential neighbourhood, where kids ride their bikes up and down the street and play in their front yards. Many residents have dogs or cats that also utilize the roadway as a corridor typical of many rural acreage neighbourhoods. There are no sidewalks or streetlights on this road and there have already been some near misses with local residential traffic and/or residents out walking on a narrow road with some dangerous curves with no sight lines, no sidewalks, or street lighting. Furthermore, Falls Creek Estates is on a tertiary route for snow removal and Beasley West Road can be very dangerous and inaccessible at times for vehicles without 4WD. This raises further concern that our road may be blocked off by commercial transport vehicles accessing the proposed development for pick-up and deliveries.
The Beasley Road turn-off from Highway 3 is dangerous for exiting and entering and signage at the intersection of Beasley Road and Beasley West Road is inadequate and non-existent. Along this straight stretch of highway, many vehicles use it as one of their opportunities to pass. We have all experienced close calls trying to pull out of Beasley Road onto the highway after checking both directions. Current highway infrastructure and traffic volume on this stretch of highway does not allow for commercial/heavy duty vehicles accessing this area for commercial agricultural reasons, as there is no turning lane. This adds a safety risk for all residents and tourists of the West Kootenays, not just Beasley residents.
Decreased property values. Falls Creek Estates has an established convenance which states that we are not allowed to have fences, no more than two dogs, NO livestock, mandatory connected 2-car garages, minimum total square footage, etc. These convenance were developed to protect property values and guide property owners developing raw land to maintain a certain MINIMUM standard. Rezoning the neighbouring parcels that were slated for similar residential development is not in line with the vision of the area. The purpose of zoning is to: maintain order, efficiency, and harmony in the use of land in a community; to establish and promote minimum standards for health, safety, convenience, and welfare of the public; to prevent overcrowding of lands; to secure adequate air, water sources, and access; and to protect property values. Rezoning of these parcels to agricultural in our neighbourhood meets none of these objectives.
We understand that these parcels proposed for rezoning are private property and a prospective owner can do with it what they wish. However, currently it is restricted to residential usage. We believe that keeping it as residential is the best way of maintaining our quality of life, neighbourhood, and environment at a high standard, while also ensuring our property values are not negatively impacted. Rezoning this to agricultural land on a commercial level of AG4 does not allow for ANY long-term protection to neighbouring residents. Let us be clear that we are vehemently opposed to rezoning for commercial agricultural purposes, proposed development aside. The developer can make all sorts of promises regarding how our concerns will be mitigated but in the end, the real risk, is rezoning for commercial agricultural purposes. If this is rezoned and the developer goes bankrupt or doesn’t have the funds for the intended mitigation, then any kind of commercial agricultural practices would be allowed at a much larger scale than the developer is proposing and likely without the mitigation measures also proposed.
Wildlife currently utilize the access road as a travel corridor through the upper parcels slated for rezoning and development. We are blessed with having a small population of ungulates and other wildlife that can roam freely on this mountainside, including in our subdivision, where there are no fences vis-a-vis restrictive covenant, and for very good reason. Our ungulate population is down to 50% of former levels and human encroachment is having the biggest impact. A commercial operation of this nature that is proposing to “install good fences,” would impact habitat connectivity and may potentially increase wildlife predation in the area. The proposed development may also lead to increased large predators utilization in a neighbourhood with small children and pets.
The British Columbia Chicken Marketing Board has an online information brochure (https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/farming-natural-resources-and-industry/agriculture-and-seafood/animal-and-crops/animal-production/small_flock_manual.pdf) for small producers up to 2,000 birds which provides information on dealing with the predators and their increase due to the farm increase in predators. Obviously with more birds the issue would be compounded and worse than stated. With an increase in the presence of predators in our neighbourhood concerns for the safety of our families and pets is very real. As the neighbourhood is located directly adjacent to crown land, and not existing developed land, the attraction of the poultry farm would be that much greater to local predators and would jeopardise the safety of the neighbourhood. Allowing the rezoning would place the surrounding properties in a situation of decreased safety, and would not be considered in the best interest of the majority of residents within the area.
The Canadian Charter of Freedoms states that a neighbour is not legally allowed to effect the enjoyment of one’s property. Excess noise, odour, contaminated aquifers, scarcity of water, decreased herbivore wildlife, increased predators, and increased traffic all effect the enjoyment of our properties significantly. There have been two recent cases on Vancouver Island where the regional district allowed zoning changes with protest from neighbours and the Province under the enjoyment of land legislation. The regional district was forced to reverse its decision and/or compensate for houses plus punitive damages. We the residents of Falls Creek Estates, Beasley Road, and Bain Road do not believe that approval of this application would be in the best interest of Falls Creek Estates, Beasley Road, and Bain Road residential neighbourhoods which surround the subject properties slated for rezoning. Should you choose to proceed with this rezoning application, you would not be acting in the best interest for the majority of constituents within this area and as such, we are prepared to take further and necessary action to prevent the destruction of our peaceful and tranquil neighbourhood.
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