An abandoned chicken barn is the subject of the latest subdivision application within the Agricultural Land Reserve.
On behalf of owner Brian Harbidge, Norm Tapp of N and J Developments has applied to subdivide the 29.45 acre parcel at 6444-240 St. into 28 lots ranging in size from 0.92 acres to 2.11 acres.
On April 11, council voted to support the application to the Agricultural Land Commission.
The property is surrounded by rural-residential properties ranging in size from 0.40 acre to 9.13 acres. Not all are within the land reserve.
The Harbidge parcel is in the Salmon River Uplands and above the Hopington Aquifer.
In his application, Tapp said that while the property has historically been used for a chicken farm, the chicken quota was transferred last year when the farmer retired after 35 years in the business.
“The applicants believe that primary surrounding land use that has developed around the subject property makes this property less than ideal to restart an intensive agricultural operation on the land,” Tapp wrote to council.
“Additionally, the farm would require significant upgrades to meet code for a new chicken operation and its location above the Hopington aquifer hinders its use for food production,” he added.
The item came before council immediately after water resources manage Kevin Larsen had given a presentation on the aquifer for another issue.
The aquifer is the main source of water for the 2,295 homes and 202 farms.
Larsen told council that the aquifer has an A-1 B.C. Aquifer Classification, meaning it is heavily used and highly vulnerable to contamination. Usage amounts to 308 litres per day per person, most of it for showers and flushing toilets.
Rainfall is the primary source (96 per cent) to replenish the aquifer, while treated waste from households accounts for approximately four per cent.
Critics of development above the Hopington warn that new construction will expand the area of impervious surfaces above the Hopington, which currently stands at 25 per cent.
“Are they going to be drawing water from the aquifer?” asked Councillor Kim Richter.
Administrator Mark Bakken confirmed this.
In an earlier discussion involving the aquifer, she had remarked: “Let’s not use Hopington water to flush toilets.”
“This is in the ALR. So why are we approving it?” she asked.
Bakken replied that the application complies with the Official Community Plan.
Richter and Councillor Mel Kositsky voted against the application which will now be forwarded to the ALC which has the final word.