Brian Baker, owner of Tri-X Excavating, said when the company purchased the roughly 50-hectareproperty at 3659 Sooke Rd. a few years ago, the initial plan was to subdivide it into 10-acre lots. (Google Earth)

Soil recycling proponent weighs options for 50-hectare Metchosin parcel

Land originally purchased with 10-acre lots in mind

Rick Stiebel/News Staff

The proponent for a soil recycling facility in Metchosin has pressed the pause button on an application for a Temporary Use Permit to discuss options with the community.

Brian Baker, owner of Tri-X Excavating, said when the company purchased the roughly 50-hectare property at 3659 Sooke Rd. a few years ago, the initial plan was to subdivide it into 10-acre lots.

He now believes that a recycling facility on about five acres of the property is a better use, however, and that’s why the company applied for a Temporary Use Permit earlier this year.

“A lot of soil that could be reused by screening and separating it ends up in in-fill dumps,” Baker noted.

“We’re taught at a young age to recycle and I can’t see why we’re not doing that. It makes no sense to waste 85 per cent of what can be used. Recycling product that’s normally dumped somewhere and turning it into a product that can be used elsewhere is a good thing to do.”

Baker said he is open to discussing future plans for the property with Metchosin.

“I want to hear what people want to see. Maybe residents want to see development, but I see bigger potential. The numbers have to work for everyone and it’s a juggling act, but I want to make everyone happy. We’re at the very early stages of exploring what options are on the table.”

Baker is prepared to leave a large portion of the property as park land if the recycling facility moves ahead.

“A beautiful chunk of the property would leave a huge portion untouched, depending on no how discussions go,” he said. “A large portion could be donated if the numbers work and people are open to my options. Developing it all into lots seems like a shame. I hope the recycling thing works.”

READ ALSO: Community members oppose controversial application for ‘soil recycling’ permit in Metchosin

While there has been some support for the recycling facility, Metchosin Mayor John Ranns said he’s aware of concerns expressed at recent council meetings, including noise, blasting, truck traffic, site remediation and upholding the community’s values. Some have questioned whether an industrial site is a good fit for Metchosin.

Metchosin Mayor John Ranns

The original proposal called for about two hectares of the property to be used to create an operations area that includes a scale and receiving area, screening area, stockpiling area and cement lock block bins. An extensive report prepared by Madrone Environmental Services for Tri-X included plans for contamination monitoring, water sampling, erosion control and how other concerns would be addressed. Noise reduction measures were detailed, and the report stated that there would be no rock crushing conducted at the site. A remediation plan for the operating area was included as well. Limited blasting on the site would be limited to preparing the operations area.

Ranns said a soil recycling facility makes a lot of sense for the region. “A lot of what’s extracted elsewhere can be reused,” he said. “It would certainly help with the plans underway for an industrial park at Beecher Bay. Recycling makes environmental and economic sense. Rather than rejecting it outright, we should look at the opportunity to secure a much more significant park and wildlife asset than we could otherwise and also protect the headwaters of Bilston Creek. It’s a one-shot unexpected opportunity.”

Ranns has asked Coun. Andy MacKinnon to meet with Tri-X to determine what’s possible. “Andy’s a nationally recognized tree expert with expertise in other areas as well. The alternative is 10-acre lots throughout the entire property.”

In fairness to those raising objections, Ranns said he can’t fault anyone for wanting to protect Metchosin. “Sometimes working with landowners can protect the community better than just saying no,” he added. He cited a land swap deal with Beecher Bay First Nation and the City of Langford, as well as an agreement reached with Beecher Bay and Pearson College on the Mary Hill property as examples of how working together can achieve a common vision.

rick.stiebel@goldstreamgazette.com

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