The gates at Waterdown Garden Supplies Ltd. were recently blocked following a protest by contracted drivers who claim they haven’t been paid for hauling soil. – Cathie Coward , The Hamilton Spectator
After months of discussion and a last-minute legal requirement, Hamilton councillors recently approved a moratorium on outside fill entering the city.
“I’m fully supportive of this amendment to the existing bylaw,” said Glanbrook Coun. Brenda Johnson. “This will give residents a little bit of a sigh of relief that we are not going to see more problematic issues out in the rural areas.”
Still, the moratorium on importing fill into Hamilton is a stopgap measure until councillors can approve a stricter site-alteration bylaw that has been under review by staff and various committees since earlier this year. City staff said the bylaw is expected to be before councillors in November.
Rural councillors have been urging staff to accelerate the moratorium bylaw to stop the hundreds of trucks they say have been rumbling through rural areas such as Flamborough, Ancaster and Upper Stoney Creek, from construction sites in Toronto, and dumping untested fill on farmers’ fields.
The city’s current site-alteration bylaw has proved ineffective in restricting landowners from receiving money to allow fill to be dumped on their properties, officials said. It establishes a maximum fine of $50,000, but the enforcement of it has been minimal, acknowledged Tony Sergi, director of growth planning.
The updated site-alternation bylaw would force property owners to get a permit at a cost of $2,700 before they can accept any fill.
The moratorium bylaw had been delayed after the city’s solicitor insisted that, to make it enforceable, it needed to be reworded and approved as a bylaw. City staff and some councillors worked throughout the Thanksgiving weekend to get the bylaw ready to be approved at the special council meeting on Oct. 16.
Councillors were concerned the longer Hamilton delayed, the number of trucks dumping of fill on farmland in anticipation of the new restrictions would increase rapidly.
“It is so good to see this come to fruition,” said Flamborough Coun. Judi Partridge. “It’s not just the damage that is taking place on prime farmland, but it has also damaged our roads and our residents’ peace of mind.”
She said that up to 300 trucks per day have been travelling along Flamborough roads, carrying fill from Toronto.
“I’m so pleased to see this (bylaw) come to pass,” she said.