The neighbours complained about burning at Eddie's Pit, as Ed Weismiller's J&E Backhoe Ltd. (J&E) site is referred to. Yet wood waste has accumulated there and, in an effort to deal with it, Weismiller acquired a horizontal tub grinder. Shortly after, he received a letter from the municipal bylaw officer stating that the zoning of the property did not allow the operation of the grinder and it needed to be stopped until his rezoning application has been processed.
At the Monday, February 27 council meeting, Weismiller asked for a temporary permit that would allow him to deal with the wood waste in the interim. "There are three major companies that currently look after the disposal of wood waste on their properties," Bill Newport, who spoke for J&E Backhoe, said. He listed J&E, Twin Island and the municipality and added, "Nowhere on Bowen Island is it permitted to use a tub grinder, nowhere is it permitted to burn transported green waste."
Since the bylaw officer's cease and resist notice, wood waste is piling up, says Newport and added that J&E would like to continue operating the grinder on a temporary basis until the municipality has made decisions on policy. He added, " If you tell one [company] they can't do it, neither can the other, nor can the municipality."
Councillor Alison Morse said, "If someone applies for a temporary use permit, this still has to go through the proper public process. I heard that the issue with the grinder is the noise. In a temporary use permit, you can specify all kinds of conditions, for example the number of hours it can be run and how many days a week."
Mayor Jack Adelaar suggested to hold the letter from [the municipal] bylaw [officer] in abeyance. Councillor Cro Lucas said that there was some urgency to address the issue as material has been piling up. Cathy Buchanan is a neighbour of J&E. She said, "I don't see what the rush is. The pile has been sitting there for two years."
CAO Brent Mahood said, "I just wanted to clarify that there is an alternative available. All that material could go off island." Mahood said that in order for J&E to accept green waste at the pit, some criteria have to be met. He suggested to find a solution in conjuction with the solid waste management plan.
"Contractors have the option of going through J&E or ship [green waste] off the island. But the fact is that it has been stockpiled [at the pit] illegally," Mahood said.
Newport confirmed the CAO's statement but added that the bylaw officer should be monitoring all three sites that have been dealing with green waste. "That chipper went to the municipal site at Salal Road and chipped all the municipal waste and the bylaw officer didn't say anything. A temporary permit would give [the municipality] time to monitor the decibel reading thorough the valley. That would also be a good plan for the neighbourhood." Newport said. "And there's the added cost for shipping [the material] off island."
Councillor Alison Morse wanted to know how much waste was up at the site and how long it would take to grind it. Newport replied that it would probably take five days of four-hour periods. Ed Weismiller said that there is additional material at the pit but the subject under discussion was the chipping material that has built up since Christmas. "If I don't know what to do with it, I just leave it there. The neighbours didn't like me burning so I got the grinder and then the bylaw officer came up there."
Morse said that she would support a temporary permit as she is concerned about increased fire hazard. She said, "We'll request staff to investigate [the pit] and report back to council. We'll look at the feasibility and implication to allow the existing stockpile to be ground with the provision that no further material is accepted until the rezoning application has been dealt with."
But stopping deliveries to the pit will have a wide effect, according to Dave McIntosh, owner and operator of Bowen Waste Services. He said, "I'm opposed to burning and have been for many years. But we don't have a comprehensive plan on Bowen. What Eddie Weismiller is asking for is a temporary permit to do what he can [to alleviate the situation]." McIntosh said that he currently has three containers out on sites on behalf of Bowen residents. "I don't know what I would do with them [if they can't go to the pit], we cannot stop what we have been doing without proper notice." McIntosh also expressed concern about the extra expense for islanders if the waste has to be shipped to Vancouver.
Mahood said that staff should be invited to comment on some of the factors. He said, "We need to hear from [fire chief] Brian Biddlecombe and the bylaw officer. We also need to look at Metro Vancouver's requirements to see what we can do on that site in addition to burning."
Newport said that J&E was the only Bowen company that has previously held all the appropriate Metro Vancouver burning licenses. In the letter to council, J&E states, "As a result of rising costs of the burning permit, the air quality report and increasing awareness that open burning is not the best method to process wood waste, we invested in a horizontal tub grinder." Newport said that Metro [Vancouver] has no concern with grinding other than what happens with the material after. Newport said. "If no more debris can go up [to the pit], I believe it is fair to give all the contractors some notice that green waste will not be accepted [at any site]."
Council set the cut-off date for receiving waste at the pit and other sites as March 16 and, until that time, the letter from the bylaw officer in regard to operating the grinder will be held in abeyance with the condition that grinding only happens from Monday to Friday for four hours a day.