Langley Township sign
Langley Township sign
B.C. Government remediation fact sheet
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Soil Deposition Bylaw

What is soil deposition bylaw? Simply put, it is a bylaw to regulate the removal or deposit of soil within a particular municipality. But why is it needed?

According to the District of Mission, British Columbia: "Many landowners are interested in depositing or removing soil from their property for a variety of reasons. Soil includes topsoil, gravel, sand, rock, peat, silt and clay. Depositing soil on your property has the potential to cause many negative impacts including affecting drainage on neighbouring properties, harming plants and animals that rely on perennial or seasonal wet areas for their survival and reducing the value of the property by depositing contaminated soil."

Regarding their bylaw, they go on to say, "The bylaws are in place to protect property owners as much as they are to protect neighbouring properties and the District's infrastructure. In most cases, the bylaws require that a permit be obtained from the District. Additional requirements may apply to those properties within the Agricultural Land Reserve."

On January 2004, the Community Charter was enacted in British Columbia. This Charter transfers to local governments considerable powers to regulate activities within their communities, subject to compliance with provincial laws. This included the prohibition of soil removal, or prohibition of the deposit of soil or other material, and makes reference to the quality of the soil or material including contamination. However, such bylaws cannot be adopted without Ministry of Environment approval. Moreover, "any local government adopting a soil deposition bylaw that conflicts with standards or procedures in the Environmental Management Act risks becoming responsible for paying to clean up any resulting contamination".

Several communities in British Columbia have adopted soil deposition bylaws, designed to protect the urban environment. Perusal of the web reveals the following communities with such bylaws: Abbotsford, Central Saanich, Chilliwack, Courtney, Cranbrook, Kelowna, Langford, Langley, Maple Ridge, Mission, Nanaimo, Penticton, Prince George, Surrey, Vernon, West Kelowna.

Why hasn't Salmon Arm developed such a bylaw? It does not seem clear at this point, but in the recently revised Official Community Plan, the following was stated under the heading of New Studies and Projects: "Research and consider options for regulating the removal of soil and the deposit of soil". This is considered to be a medium term project, meaning it will be addresses sometime between 2015 and 2017. But can we wait that long? Other communities didn't think so and got on with the job. Already the effects of a lack of a bylaw are evident in Salmon Arm.
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