Is The New Zoning For Mission And The Fraser River A Toxic Plan ?

By August 21, 2014Issues

By Wendy Bales. Follow up update to:




The external costs and irony


Last night Mission Council voted in favor of 2 zoning bylaws that will facilitate expanding barging and industrial uses like contaminated soil reclamation, coal, wood pellets and gravel on the banks of the Fraser River. The vote on one zoning will be completed at this special council that will take place at 3 pm tomorrow.


In contrast, a sweet irony was that on the same day in the USA the state of Oregon showed real leadership insights into the bigger external environmental and economic costs, by voting against a more toxic future for the Columbia river. “The state of Oregon stood up to dirty coal exports today by denying a key dock-building permit. This denial is a major victory for residents and climate activists who have waged a huge, high-profile campaign against coal exports. Oregon’s decision today shows that our state leadership values clean air, our climate and healthy salmon runs.”



The Fraser Valley Watershed was a delegation first up at the same Mission council last night, Coalition reported on a grant to restore salmon habitat areas using added cooler ground water to surface sources.


I felt a sick kind dread at the irony that  council soon after passed to 3rd reading barge zoning that could have a very detrimental effect on prime world class Salmon and Sturgeon habitat and sustainable jobs through tourism and fishing. What a contrast from the USA citizens that stopped the coal export permit on the Columbia River in order to be proactive and protect water quality.


In contrast:

Sockeye openings start despite survival concerns

Water levels are 11 per cent below normal, which Jantz said also means the river can heat up fast to dangerously warm temperatures in a bout of hot weather.


Ground water  that is increasingly under threat from overuse during drought periods. (see other source material below).



I asked council if they had any impact reports about health and traffic safety on land and river. Since I had as well reported previous statistics on river accidents, councilor Stevens later asked me if I had any studies on traffic studies. I have neither the staff, funds or position on council to compel staff or industries to fund studies that would help to inform a responsible decision.


This process for rezoning has been in the works for quite a while. Why did no one on council think to ask for impact studies on what this zoning and expanded barging could mean prior to last night’s meeting? Shouldn’t it be a reflection and responsibility of those that are in the position to vote? What would be the cumulative effect of all the combined properties with increased zoning be? The public should have had answers from staff or council who were voting on this zoning change. Who will realistically be regulating or be responsible for any on-going or cumulative impacts to residents or habitat and the costs of any disasters and clean-ups that could result from this decision?


I asked if this new zoning was tied to Mayor and some councils support of USA coal by rail through the valley at a 2013 FVRD Board meeting. They did not confirm or deny any connection. I suppose we may find out when it is too late to make a difference.



Also passed on last night’s agenda:

(c) Zoning Amending Bylaw 5420-2014-5050(133)

(R13-026 – Fraser Pacific) – a bylaw to rezone property

at 31870 Duncan Avenue from the Industrial Business

Park One Zone (INBP1) and the Industrial General Zone

(ING) to the Comprehensive Development 34 Zone



This property zoning did pass last night (located below the Walmart in Mission on the bank of the Fraser). It is already set up for Coal and Gravel loading and there is a separate application in to the province for contaminated soil reclamation on the same property.


I have had communications back and forth with the industry consultant on the contaminated soil application and have asked that information be made public in the interest of being able to make informed timely statements or to ask questions before the provincial process is over. The province told me that it could take 6 months to a year to process this application and that the proponents are required to consult with the public.  Wouldn’t it have been good to have had this info disclosed at the time of the public meeting on the zoning for open discussion? It makes me wonder what else may be in process with all the other properties. Shouldn’t there be public meetings on the provincial applications.


While I agree that there needs to be recycling of contaminated soil I just question the logic of locating up to 60,000 tons of it on the banks of the Fraser in a location that I was told has had flooding in the past or that could be subjected to an unplanned earthquake. Contrary to what I was told by Mission council about wanting to get more trucks off the road, I was told that the soil would be trucked in for this application. So why would it need to be in a location on the bank of the Fraser that was previously known and mapped as Environmentally Sensitive Area # 18?


One thing that  the consultant Keystone continues to note is that the contaminated soil is not hazardous (as per provincial terms for standards). After reading about the ingredients listed in the applicants ad (some of which are government sources) along with the Webster’s dictionary definition of hazardous I would personally disagree. Some of the same ingredients are listed in these below links and stories about a case that went to trial in the USA.



Other sources on water and regulating:


Cool glacier water and the river temperature is an integral part of sustainable salmon spawning survival.

Question: how much will governments be able to independently monitor individual water supplies and sources with depleted manpower? Is it realistic to think that it will be any better with the new barge zoning on the Fraser?


In the not too distant Langley Township:

This large aquifer is the sole supplier of fresh water for about 25 per cent of Langley Township’s population, and it’s also a critical resource for local agriculture.

But the Hopington water table has been declining by as much as 30 centimetres per year since the 1970s — and it’s now fallen by just over nine metres.

Cowichan River drought concerns, is at an all-time low.

Becoming a trend?


Regulating systems ineffective for safety.



This report is a worth a read for all that have RAR issues:

A quote from the Ombudsman report on page 15: “The ministry does not currently have a process in place for monitoring the effectiveness of the RAR in protecting riparian areas.”

“Who would buy an expensive car, and then never the check the oil or the brakes?”


Also a good reference for info on our high vulnerability aquifer is this link with a map on page 25 the Auditor Generals website;


The Feds lack water data – report


Reports: World Faces ‘Insurmountable’ Water Shortage




Wendy Bales


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