The “Lulu Island Wetlands,” Post 1

Note: Updates added at the end on July 12 and July 16.

Gerry Galasso of Richmond has brought our attention to a wetlands issue. It’s on a tucked-away property southeast of No. 6 Road and Blundell Road. With a little checking, I found that the muncipal address is 8060 No. 6 Road.

Like the Garden City Lands, the area may be one of Richmond’s natural jewels that could be better appreciated.

The Vancouver Naturalist borrows the name “Lulu Island Wetlands” for the area—half as large as the Garden City Lands—and devotes the June 2010 front cover and page 5 to it. The well-written article includes the following photo. You’ll see the wetlands delineated with a white outline just north of Country Meadows Golf Course. The watery depressions that occupy much of the middle and east side are an effect of long-ago peat mining (also known as “peat harvesting”).

The Vancouver Naturalist article makes a strong case about the value of the property for wildlife. I encourage you to download the fairly large PDF (3MB) to read about it and see what you think.

The article says there are two major threats to the 8060 No. 6 Road wetlands. I’ll comment on them in turn without forming any strong opinion.

Threat 1: “Firstly, the proposed extension of Blundell Rd. along the northern perimeter of the property.”

A Blundell Road extension east of No. 6 Road was part of City of Richmond planning for years. In putting in new roads, the City is typically conscious of finding solutions that minimize any harm to agriculture and conservation. That stretch of Blundell would limit the movement of wildlife between the wetlands and the large wooded area to the north, and the City would typically take that sort of thing into account. A quite different factor is that the road would enable the public to see and appreciate the wetlands.

Threat 2: “Secondly, the current owner, who also owns the adjacent landfill, has applied for a permit to commence operations in the wetland.”

In that case, the owner must be Ecowaste Industries Ltd. It’s hard to know how to comment about the Ecowaste threat and ways to combat it because it’s not clear what the permit is for. (Most likely it would be from the BC Ministry of the Environment.)

The property is within the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR). Before using the property for landfill operations (as the article implies), the company would first have to get the Agricultural Land Commission to exclude the property from the ALR or at least grant permission. However, the ALC’s current South Coast applications do not include any Richmond ones, so it’s obvious that no application related to the property has been quietly slipping through.

In any case, to get anywhere toward ALC approval, an applicant essentially needs local government support, and the company does not appear to have formally approached Richmond council yet. (I’ve tried searching the City of Richmond website for anything relevant.)

Whether or not the property should remain in the ALR, the reality is that the ALR status provides a safeguard against development going ahead without the community and naturalists having a chance to be involved.

While it is likely that there are means to success for the naturalists seeking to conserve the wetlands, it’s hard to even identify what obstacles they’re trying to overcome—let alone determine efficient ways to help—without clearer information:

  • What exactly does the owner hope to do on the property?
  • What harm might it cause?
  • Especially since Ecowaste Industries Ltd. aims to be environmentally responsible, is there a way for the naturalists to work with the owner toward a win-win?

As a basic step, people who are pursuing this issue could seek information from the City of Richmond. In my experience, the City Clerk’s office responds to requests in an exemplary way.

An important note: The name “Lulu Island wetlands” has historically been used to mean essentially the same thing as “Lulu Island Bog.” Appropriating the name for the Ecowaste property was a clever branding approach by Nature Vancouver, but it is not the right name to use for the property at 8060 No. 6 Road. The accurate descriptive name would be “the Ecowaste wetlands.”

July 12 update: Please read De Whalen’s comment below this post. Evidently the Nelson Road Interchange, well north-east of the wetlands, makes the Blundell Road extension west of No. 6 Road unneccessary for the original purpose. The comment refers to a Richmond environmentally sensitive area (EFA) that an extension would have to pass through. On the following map, the wetlands are outlined in red. At the corner of Blundell and No. 6 Road, notice that a green EFA area and the northwest corner of the wetlands rectangle overlap each other.

Around noon on July 12, I called Ecowaste Industries for input.  I left a voice message for general manager Tom Land, and he replied on July 16. For that promising story, see “The ‘Lulu Island Wetlands,’ Post 2.”


1 Comment »

  1. 1
    De Whalen Says:

    This is in my neighbourhood. A few years ago we neighbours discovered the City was going to punch a road through to Fraserport as well as make an off ramp at Blundell and the 99, so big trucks could travel off the 99 directly to Fraserport via Blundell. A group of 60 Blundell residents, called the Blundell Interchange Group, or BIG, banded together to oppose this development through ALR and environmentally sensitive areas.

    We researched, lobbied and communicated with officials at Fraserport, the ALR and the City. We showed the City the land the road was to go through (the land you are referring to) is designated an environmentally sensitive area (ESA) in their own maps, and an assessment must be done before anything. A Fraserport official responsible for infrastructure said they didn’t really want to build a road through the area because they “didn’t want to build a road over water” (there are some lakes-peat mines there).

    We showed the City a compromise, an overpass from Nelson Road onto the 91. They accepted that and the rest is, and should stay, history.

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