Don Alberg

Cattle clash focus turns to trees in Gordon Head

Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard is promising to fight any attempt to cut down more than 100 trees at a Gordon Head cattle feed lot.

Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard is promising to fight any attempt to cut down more than 100 trees at a Gordon Head cattle feed lot.

A staff report made available Tuesday notes several ongoing concerns around the Alberg family cattle feedlot on Mount Douglas Cross Road.

The five-acre lot is being used to raise 42 head of cattle while the Albergs and the municipality remain at odds over how to proceed with rezoning the land for residential use and removing it from the Agricultural Land Reserve.

The Albergs plan to add another 12 cows to the feed lot this season.

In the meantime, about 100 Garry oak trees on the property are under threat after the Albergs applied for a tree removal permit from the District of Saanich to make room for manure storage.

About 25 trees were already cut down because the owners believed a tree cutting permit had been obtained, said Don Alberg, who co-owns the feed lot property with his siblings, Gordon Alberg and Florence Davis.

“We paid for it [the permit] and we figured we had the permit and everything,” Don said.

“I had informed (the District) it was what we needed to do for the feedlot. Then we cut trees and they said we did it without a permit.”

If the family wants to make the current farming business viable, they need to remove the trees, Don said.

But Mayor Frank Leonard said Saanich has no intention to approve the removal of the trees.

“The (Albergs’) legal council wants a permit to remove trees, and we’ll take measures to not issue the permit,” Leonard said.

The Albergs have made multiple applications to rezone the property for the purposes of a residential development, including an application for a 16-unit development in March.

At one point the proposals included covenants to protect the Garry oak meadows.

“The way things are going, there’ll be nothing left to protect,” Leonard said.

The report also suggests to neighbours – many of whom have publicly aired their frustration about a feedlot in their backyards – can go to the Farm Industry Review Board.

“The intensity of farm use on the property is of concern to us,” Leonard said. “We’re offering to assist neighbours if they want to go to the FIRB. As more cattle come in it could be said, ‘This is too many.’”

Leonard pointed to the Beckwith Farms use of bird-repelling cannons from 2010 to 2012.

The cannons were used to stave off Canada geese, which killed a reported 12,000 blueberry plants in a few days, but were eventually cancelled due to pressure from the neighbours with support from the municipality.

The Alberg feedlot tree issue is only the latest development in the ongoing saga.

Both the municipality and the Albergs believe the other side is failing to take action on the matter.

To actualize the property rezoning and residential development, Saanich says the land first needs to be removed from the Agricultural Land Reserve.

The Albergs disagree and say there is no legal obligation to do so.

Don Alberg also cites a lack of trust with the city, but remains hopeful a residential rezoning can happen.

“We need to sit down and say look, we’ve gone far enough, it’s an impasse,” Don said.

reporter@saanichnews.com

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

New BC Ferries hybrid-electric vessels arrive in Victoria

BC Ferries plans to add four more hybrid-electric vessels to fleet

Blue Monday is a myth but seasonal affective disorder and winter blues are real

Canadian Mental Health Association says weather can affect mood

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers sees 37 per cent increase in tips in 2019

The non-profit takes anonymous tips from the public, brings information to police

Esquimalt, T’Sou-ke nations join more than 50 other members in South Island Prosperity Partnership

Chiefs look forward to creating ‘sustainable future’ for next generations

VIDEO: Cold snap brings ideal conditions for Okanagan icewine

Take an inside look at how icewine is made

PHOTOS: Eastern Newfoundland reeling, search underway for missing man after blizzard

More than 70 centimetres of new snow fell overnight, creating whiteout conditions

Prince Harry, Meghan to give up ‘royal highness’ titles

‘Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family,’ says Queen Elizabeth II

Ice chunk from truck crushes vehicle windshield on Vancouver Island

None injured, but Nanaimo RCMP say there can be fines for accumulations of ice and snow

B.C. society calls out conservation officer after dropping off bear cub covered in ice

Ice can be seen in video matted into emaciated bear cub’s fur

Calls for dialogue as Coastal GasLink pipeline polarizes some in northern B.C.

Coastal GasLink is building the 670-kilometre pipeline from British Columbia’s northeast to Kitimat on the coast

Intense winds en route to Greater Victoria

Winter storm warning in effect for east and west regions while wind warning to hit south and north

Theft victim confronts suspects with baseball bat on Vancouver Island

RCMP in Nanaimo seek to identify of two people alleged to have used a stolen credit card

Closed mills, housing surge support a positive forecast for lumber industries

B.C. lumber producers have closed mills accounting for 18% of province’s capacity, RBC report says

Most Read