Dust-up prompts a rethink of bylaw

Langford city staff, developers to deal with dust suppression

A proposed bylaw to control dust in the City of Langford has stirred up quite a storm.

Feedback from the community poured in earlier this month as council members pondered a new bylaw on dust suppression. It was that feedback that caused council to recently throw out the would-be bylaw and defer the issue to the West Shore Developers Association, which is already working with the City to create another industry-related bylaw. That new bylaw will now also include dust control regulations.

“It just makes sense,” said Coun. Lillian Szpak. “We do work closely with our development community, so it’s a mutually beneficial relationship.”

While council has received a number of complaints and concerns in recent years regarding dust from construction sites in the city, there were no formal guidelines for the development community to abide by.

“Without a clear regulation in place it was hard to act on those complaints,” Szpak said.

The proposed bylaw was considered by the protective services committee and forwarded to Langford council for consideration at their Dec. 5 meeting. But between those two stages, Szpak said, all of council received calls from residents and members of the development community.

Council doesn’t want fines and bureaucracy to hold up developments, she said, adding that concern was echoed by a number of community members.

“We had quite a bit of feedback,” Szpak said, noting that many people voiced concerns over the wording of the proposed bylaw.

As it was written, the bylaw would have applied to anyone carrying out construction, excavation, repair, demolition or any other supporting activity in the city. It would have required water or another dust suppressant to prevent the emission of dust so as not to disturb the peace, rest, enjoyment, comfort or convenience of the public. The bylaw also applied to those depositing, moving or removing soil and had provisions to prevent dust from contaminating the atmosphere.

Those deemed to be in contravention of the bylaw could have faced a fine up to $10,000, with each day counting as a separate offence.

“The bylaw was initiated with the best of intentions … it was never intended to be a problematic bylaw,” Szpak said.

katie@goldstreamgazette.com