Barge loading initiative seeing opposition
District staff will be studying the issue of barge loading along Mission's waterfront and bring options back for council to consider at a later date.
Mayor Ted Adlem initiated the discussion at Monday night's council meeting after speaking with several people who wanted to see the activity permitted along the Fraser River.
Last week Adlem told The Record the move would create jobs and improve Mission's economy. However, the initiative is already seeing some opposition.
Hatzic resident Ed Swaren believes the move is an attempt to get large trucks off the downtown streets.
He worries council is willing to sacrifice the quality of life of Hatzic residents. He cited increased noise and a decrease in air quality as primary concerns.
He said barge loading on the north side of the Fraser River can't be compared to what's operating on the south side because "they load directly onto barges in Matsqui."
Trucks will have to travel with their loads to a barge loading facility in Mission, he reasoned.
"The Hatzic industrial park is small with limited space," said Bev Dixon, who added the area is adjacent to a large residential community.
She also noted the area is spawning ground for sturgeon and salmon and it's important that is protected.
Fraser River Safari's Jo-Anne Chadwick agrees.
"We're working so hard to protect these waterways," she said. "We're working hard to protect the salmon runs, but on the flip side, they say we need more barges and a transportation corridor."
It will decrease the number of trucks on the road, Chadwick acknowledged, but "if you ruin the river, it's done."
Coun.Jenny Stevens said when the barge loading restriction was put in place in 2007, council's intent at the time was not to ban it forever. Instead, it was meant to give the district control over where it took place. Anyone wanting to load onto barges could apply for rezoning and it would be looked at on a case to case basis, she explained.