Neighbours clash over farm access

  • Mar. 2, 2011 1:00 p.m.

A decision has been made to widen a stretch of the Lochside Trail in order to accommodate trucks entering a local farm.

“It’s been shown that Old East Road is not safe and Tanner Road is not safe,” said Central Saanich councillor Ron Kubek about the decision. “The ALC (Agricultural Land Commission) can shut down cycling and pedestrian access (on Lochside Trail) at any time. We can’t ever deny farm or truck access.”

Neighbours of Stanhope farm on Old East Road complained to council about trucking activity to and from the farm which is in the process of building a composting facility.

“They have no good access or egress from the farm for the trucks,” said neighbour Lee Hardy. “The Lochside Trail will become a truck route with over a thousands trucks a year.”

Composting facilities are an allowed use of the land, but the large trucks have caused concern among neighbours.

“Unfortunately, the imposition and enforcement of the load limits did result in some consequences which were not fully anticipated at the outset,” said Central Saanich administrator, Gary Nason, commenting on a traffic order which had been implemented by the municipality.

That traffic order limiting gross vehicle weight to 10,000 kilograms was rescinded and staff embarked on a plan to mitigate the impact of the operation on both neighbours and the roadways.

“It’s a very challenging situation and there is not a lot of room to manoeuvre,” said Nason.

The farm has been operating as a farm for more than 50 years. “It’s one of the largest agricultural businesses, certainly in that area,” said  Stanhope Farm lawyer John Alexander. “Central Saanich very much promotes agricultural business, farming and other agricultural businesses on Lochside Road … composting is recognized by the ALC … This project has garnered a lot of attention because of the word composting. If it was a dairy barn it would not be as big an issue, if it was in indoor equestrian ring it would not be as much of a lightening rod.”

At a committee meeting to discuss the issue, Alexander suggested Island View Road as being the safest route for truck traffic from the Pat Bay Highway.

He stressed that the Rendle family, who owns the farm, is not asking for the district to pay for improvements to the property; however, if roads in the area are  to be improved, then they would have the same expectation that all residents have and that is that the district will cover costs to maintain infrastructure.

Council discussed options for dealing with the truck traffic including widening a portion of Lochside Trail to accommodate access.

“Council has to recognize the legal right for the composting operation to be there,” said councillor John Garrison. “What we’re dealing with is an issue with respect to traffic and something has to be done.”

“As a neighbourhood we are astounded (that) Mayor Jack Mar and council would rush through a bylaw change affecting this very important ‘green corridor’ from the ferries to Victoria and link to the Galloping Goose trail,” said Hardy. “In 2006 the CRD did a study that indicated there were over one million users on the trail, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there were now twice that amount.”

“We’ve asked (council) to do a proper study of the area. Right now it’s winter and there are maybe 100 users, in the summer it’s probably 500 people a day — some days it looks like a mall,” Hardy added.