One of the current development proposals for Burns Bog is an industrial proposal by Delta Fresh, which describes itself as an agricultural “partnership of operators, owners and project managers”. The proposed Delta Fresh development is located at 64th Avenue, just off Highway 91 in North Delta. It directly borders the Burns Bog Ecological Conservancy Area. The site, originally slated for agriculture, was removed from the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) 30 years ago. However, it is still zoned for agricultural use by the City of Delta.
Despite the site’s removal from the ALR, an Agrologic study and review conducted in 2020 viewed this site through an agricultural lens. The site was viewed as only having value if it could grow crops. The two meters of fill that was previously dumped on the site naturally removes the growing value of the site. But what lies beneath the surface? According to the scientific peer review on the City of Delta’s website
“removal of fill [on top of the underlying peat] would leave the site in a depressional state with lower elevation than the surrounding land due the compression of underlying peat and deltaic deposits. This would lead to flooding of the site…”
Without fill, it’s clear that this site would possess the perfect conditions for a true bog ecosystem, with peat soil and lots of water. Additionally, the initial filling of this site has likely forced a shift in the historic lagg of Burns Bog. For those unfamiliar with the term, the lagg is the edge, or transition zone, of a bog where upland mineral soils meet the bog’s wet, acidic, nutrient-poor soils of the bog. Not only has the infill of this site destroyed critical habitat for historic bog species, it has inadvertently impacted adjacent lands through changes in the water, sunlight, and nutrient regimes in the area. However, restoring the historic values of the proposed site may offset any undesired changes, and could serve to restore its ecological value over time.
The Delta Fresh development proposal also sets aside an area for a “relocated wetland”. The location of this wetland is directly between the roadway and the proposed infrastructure. Many key species that would migrate to the wetland would need to cross busy roadways, or find their way through the industrial site. The proposed relocation provides little value to the species found in Burns Bog, and instead chooses to feign value through aesthetics to those traveling on the roadway. While it may look nice, the proposed relocation will not serve as a functioning ecosystem.
The proposal also acknowledges that there will be a stream setback on both sides, but is uneven in the distribution of the buffer on both sides. Proper stream setbacks are required for salmonid waterways.
We haven’t even begun to discuss the potential pollution risks, including noise and light pollution, and added risks of increased trucking in an area that was not designed to handle high traffic volumes. Recently, the farmers represented by BC Fresh (a group representing 60 farms throughout the Fraser Valley) expressed support for this project. While there is value in creating a local processing plant for our farmers, is Burns Bog really the best location for it? Our view is a resounding “no.”