A giant hole in the ground forced Langley Township councillors to reconsider their stance on a soil deposit permit for a north Langley property.
In September, the council turned down a permit for 16,000 cubic metres of fill for a property in the 7700 block of 240th Street.
Neighbours were somewhat worried at the time about the amount of fill, the truck traffic it would create, and noise disrupting the neighbourhood for both humans and animals.
Township council has become more stringent over the past year about permits, after years of complaints. But on Monday, with the addition of some extra guidelines, the council approved the permit. Councillor Charlie Fox, who called for the reconsideration, said the situation is the fault of the previous owner of the property, who dug a massive hole without any permission or oversight.
The owner a few years back was running a marijuana grow operation, Fox said.
As a side business, the occupants decided to dig out some gravel from a
seam on the property.
However, they didn't want to fill out any forms or pay any fees. So they didn't.
"No permits at all," Fox said. The owners apparently hauled the gravel out on trucks at night.
They also apparently hauled in some soil themselves at the same time, and built a workshop that doesn't meet building codes.
"The interesting thing was, nobody at the time complained," said Fox.
Now the new owners want to start farming, but they have a giant gap in their property.
A report to the Township from an engineer showed that the hole is having a number of nasty side-effects, both for the property and for the local environment.
Silt is running off from the area into a nearby red-listed creek. Red-listed streams are potential spawning areas for fish, including salmon.
The sides of the pit are apparently unstable, and could slide, due either to groundwater saturation or any future earthquakes.
Finally, trees are tipping over due to erosion on the site.
Fox, along with Councillors David Davis and Kim Richter, visited the site earlier this fall to see it for themselves.
The visit convinced Fox that the soil deposit request is not "a cash cow," but a genuine project to remediate the site.
With a few extra parameters for the permit, it has been approved, and the Township will require that clean, compacted fill be used.
The new owners want to farm blueberries and start a vineyard.