The “Lulu Island Wetlands,” Post 2

There is a November 21, 2010, update to this post at the end.

This post builds on “The ‘Lulu Island Wetlands,’ Post 1. It is about a property at 8060 No. 6 Road, Richmond, B.C., that the Vancouver Natural History Society (Nature Vancouver) has dubbed the “the Lulu Island Wetlands” in a conservation article. Since that name has historically been a synonymn for “Lulu Island Bog,” the property needs to be identified differently, and the accurate description would be “the Ecowaste wetlands,” since the owner is Ecowaste Industries Ltd., as discussed later in this post.

From No. 6 Road at Blundell Road, the “Lulu Island Wetlands” extend about 400 metres south along No. 6 Road and about 800 metres east along the Blundell road allowance. The area is bounded on the south by Country Meadows Golf Course and on the east by Ecowaste Industries land used for active operations. It is shown below in an aerial photo from the City of Richmond’s online GIS Inquiry.

It’s hard to see much from No. 6 Road on the western side, but there are a couple of viewpoints from the golf course to the south. The northern boundary is entirely road allowance, which is presumably accessible to those who can physically manage to get through the birch forest (almost impossible for most mortals, I’m told).

At the end of Post 1 on this topic, I was seeking input from Tom Land, General Manager of Ecowaste Industries Ltd., which is a key player since it happens to own the property. When Tom Land returned my call, he clarified the status of Ecowaste’s plans.

Two years ago, the company prepared an application to place fill on the 79-acre property, which is within the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR). As usual, that would require an application to the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC), and that would need to involve City of Richmond support in order to go forward to the ALC. Furthermore, it would also require City approval because the City zoning is currently AG1, which is the basic Agricultural zoning, and possibly also because the property includes an environmentally sensitive area (ESA) in its northwest corner, as shown in Post 1.

Ecowaste’s consultants have said that the land is only Class 6 or 7 in the ALC’s classes of agricultural land. That means they think it is not suitable for agriculture other than perhaps for grazing, and I had surmised as much from the naturalists’ description. The Ecowaste proposal envisages using non-agricultural uncontaminated fill to bring the peat-mined depressions pretty much up to grade and then placing soil on the top to make the land.

In theory, that will make it suitable for a fairly wide range of agriculture. However, I can’t shake a bit of skepticism about the food-growing desirability of a soil-covered landfill farm, which does not sound appealing. Ecowaste has used a similar approach with another part of its Richmond Landfill property and is growing trees there: poplars to be harvested every 20 years for pulp and willows to be harvested every three years for biofuel.

Tom Land joined Ecowaste only about two years ago. Since he came on the scene, the City of Richmond has been working intensively to update the official community plan (OCP). About one year ago, the company allowed its proposal for the property to become dormant in order to look at the bigger picture involving Ecowaste’s entire 480 acres of holdings. The “Lulu Island Wetlands” represent only one-sixth of that.

Ecowaste is willing to discuss conservation opportunities for the “Lulu Island Wetlands” in keeping with its belief in corporate social and environmental responsibility. Naturally, that would also have to be in the context that a company needs to make money pursuing its line of business, which in this case consists of appropriately disposing of used construction and demolition waste materials.

The property is a remnant of the Greater Lulu Island Bog. A much larger remnant, which is now known simply as the Lulu Island Bog, consists from east to west of the Richmond Nature Study Area, the Richmond Nature Park (often considered to include the study area), the Department of National Defense Lands, and finally the Garden City Lands on the western edge of the bog. One important factor to consider is the extent to which the “Lulu Island Wetlands,” separated from the Lulu Island and much wetter, are enabling more biodiversity in the remnants of the Greater Lulu Island Bog.

The conservation prospects have a good start in a couple of ways:

  • Tom Land speaks fondly of his previous experience with Nature Vancouver. At that long-ago time, he was in charge of the Iona Waste Water Treatment Plant, and Nature Vancouver people were doing wildlife inventories.
  • Ecowaste genuinely aims to act with environmental responsibility, and Tom Land called to discuss the issue in keeping with that approach.

The conservation of part or all of that property would have to not interfere with the company’s responsibilities. Since Ecowaste’s lands are industrial sites, the company feels that it has a related need to limit access.

Ecowaste is evidently looking at its future use of the “Lulu Island Wetlands” property in the context of trade-offs in its planning and City of Richmond planning. I and the Garden City Lands Coaltion Society board will continue to take an interest in how things unfold, although the “Lulu Island Wetlands” is not our top priority.

In any event, assuming continued goodwill and teamwork, the potential problem identified by Nature Vancouver is also looking like a potential opportunity.

___________

Update: On Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010, at 4 p.m.  in the Anderson Room at Richmond City Hall, Julian Hudson of Nature Vancouver will address the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Committee as a delegation at the beginning of the meeting. The Nature Vancouver presentation will build on this earlier submission, which includes photos of wildlife on the Ecowaste wetlands.

Ecowaste Industries Ltd. has recently told us that it expects to meet with Richmond staff soon, probably in December 2010, to discuss the future of its Richmond holdings (Richmond landfill and related property). There is no reason to think that Ecowaste has any near-term intent to develop the Ecowaste wetland area. In any case, development (including placement of fill) would require permission from the Agricultural Land Commission, which would not be obtained quickly—if at all.

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1 Comment »

  1. 1
    Julian Hudson Says:

    It would be great if we could work together on this. I know your priority is the GCL, but a positive decision on this could impact the GCL.
    We haven’t been sure whether or not to contact the company yet, as there can be a disadvantage to doing so too soon.
    We (Nature Vancouver) would like to ask the GCLC to send a rep or two to the meeting tomorrow in support. It would be great to meet you too.


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