I am a property owner located in the RDN French Creek. I was also not happy with the smoke from the agricultural waste fires last Thanksgiving weekend off Church Road and Hwy 19. Even so, I wonder where editor John Harding got his facts for his editorial concerning the RDN and the control of ALR lands.
ALR lands can be within the boundaries of any village, town, city or regional district. A province of B.C. ALR designation defines agricultural lands that cannot be subdivided or developed without being released by the ALC (Agricultural Land Commission) because they are deemed to be essential to community well being for the production of food, be it vegetable or animal.
Granting a permit for an agricultural waste fire is the responsibility of the fire chief having responsibility for fire protection and suppression in relation to the parcel on which the clearing waste fire is to take place.
Harding’s remarks concerning the RDN board and their support for passenger rail service are not appropriate in the context of whom is responsible for granting burn permits on agricultural/ALR lands. Nor does the provincial government “rule the day on ALR lands” with regard to agricultural waste fire(s).
In this unfortunate situation, a local fire chief has issued the required permit(s) and it seems to me that burns could have been more reasonably handled by not lighting all burn piles at the same time and certainly not on a long holiday weekend. However, for Harding to indicate the RDN has no control and to state that the RDN board is now “getting a taste of its own medicine” is petty, unwarranted and inaccurate.