By Cindy Filipenko
For the second time in as many months the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) has deferred making a decision about Terrane Construction’s application for a temporary use permit (TUP) for the company’s topsoil operation.
The facility, which is adjacent to the community of Mt. Currie, has been the source of controversy for the past two years.
Representatives from both Terrane and the Mt. Currie Band were on hand at this week’s SLRD meeting.
Tim Regan, co-owner of Terrane addressed the SLRD board, expressing his frustration.
“What it speaks to me of is that we have a failed relationship,” Regan said of a letter submitted by the band opposing the permit. “I have personally made efforts in this relationship to communicate. I need to make more effort because there’s several issues in this letter that are combining: one being the quarry operations; one being the topsoil operations.”
Regan provided the board with a history of the topsoil operation that had its genesis in site preparation for the industrial park. The wood waste on site, identified as a key component of topsoil, presented an economic opportunity and Terrane decided to move on it, creating an environmentally responsible company that would also prove to be a significant First Nations employer.
“We had one incident, in the very beginning of our operation, where we brought in manure that smelled,” said Regan.
He outlined the steps the company had taken to solve the problems that Mt. Currie had sited in previous complaints, the last of which was tabled in December 2005.
“At the end of the day we are following rules and regulations that are laid out, there’s a big community benefit, we know of no practices or hazards coming off this. I must say I feel very frustrated,” said Regan.
Regan said the company could not accept the TUP as written due to a requirement that the company would have to move all the material from the site in the event of flooding.
“Moving the material to higher ground would be incredibly expensive and scientifically unnecessary,” explained Regan, who described the business as not being hugely profitable.
Mt. Currie Band councillor Lucinda Phillips, who holds the land use referral portfolio, presented a letter to council opposing the permit.
“The overall concern is the odour,” confirmed Phillips, saying the letter was self-explanatory.
Squamish Mayor Ian Sutherland suggested removing the clause regarding material relocation in the event of a flood and granting Terrane the TUP as the company had complied with all of the SLRD’s recommendations. Director Raj Khalon was also in support of the application.
Other directors saw the issue differently.
“Much larger issues speak to the relationship,” said Whistler Councillor Eckhard Zeidler. “Saying ‘We’re doing the best we can, but they don’t get it’ is a little disrespectful. We need to get to a place where both sides can discuss this and come to an agreement.”
Susie Gimse, director for Electoral Area C, also spoke out against issuing the TUP.
“None of us can argue that this is not a much-needed service for the community, it’s just in the wrong location. It is on Mt. Currie’s doorstep,” said Gimse. “I am opposing the TUP on the basis that it is not supported by Mt. Currie.”
Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy, who could see the facility move into his jurisdiction, admitted that the issue was a quandary but that he was committed to a win-win situation.
“I value the relationship we have with Mt. Currie, and the relationship we continue to build. Fundamentally, I think the right thing to do is to issue this permit. It’s a very challenging position here. I’m wondering if there’s an opportunity to send the two parties back for a month to attempt to work out a solution over the course of the next month.”
The board carried a motion to defer the issue until next month.