Salt Spring Metal Recycling will no longer be accepting materials after Dec. 5 as business owner John Quesnel has decided he is done with fighting bylaw enforcement.
The property at 251 Fulford-Ganges Rd. is currently zoned as Industrial 1 (soon to be transferred to General Employment 1), which allows indoor recycling only. Complaints about outdoor noise and possible environmental issues have continued to dog the business since the present location was established in 2015.
Quesnel told the Driftwood that he is simply tired of the situation and intends to sell both properties where he has offered the service: the current space on Fulford-Ganges Road and the previous site, a split-zoned rural and agricultural property at 440 Rainbow Rd.
“Our Islands Trust has given me the ultimatum of shut down or face $1,000-a-day fines,” Quesnel posted on the company’s Facebook page. “I recycle millions of pounds of material annually. The Trust is to ‘preserve and protect’ our island and I do more cleaning up this place than any other. Yet somehow I am the enemy.”
Islands Trust bylaw enforcement officer Warren Dingman could not reveal exactly what enforcement action has taken place, but said a Nov. 1 deadline for compliance on some issues was delivered. He confirmed the outdoor sorting and storage of recycling materials was one of the problems.
Quesnel closed the doors at his original location at the end of July 2014 after many years of contention with neighbours, a failed temporary use permit application and eventual legal action from the Islands Trust. He took possession of the Fulford-Ganges property in January 2015 and re-opened for business shortly after.
Trustee Laura Patrick said she has recently discussed both properties with Quesnel and offered to help him look into the options further, since she was not yet elected when the Rainbow Road site was being used, or when the Fulford-Ganges Road site was briefly considered for upzoning under the Industrial Lands Project during the summer of 2018. Upzoning would have made Quesnel’s operation legal.
As a result of that inclusion, a petition signed by 31 residential neighbours was submitted in October 2018 opposing any variance allowing heavy industrial uses at the Fulford-Ganges property. The Islands Trust quickly withdrew the upgrade from the project.
“The volume of bylaw enforcement complaints generated by current operations on the subject property suggests that it is better suited for the indoor uses permitted under the proposed GE1 zone, and as such staff do not recommend any bylaw amendments that would permit the intensification of current uses on the property,” an August 2018 staff report states.
Patrick said that complaints have not ceased since the Industrial Lands Project concluded. (The related bylaws are currently waiting approval from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.)
“There have been numerous complaints about the outdoor activities on this property from many parties. Bylaw enforcement has been seeking voluntary compliance with the owner,” Patrick wrote in a public Facebook posting.
Speaking to the Driftwood last week, Patrick noted that waste removal is a common problem across the southern Gulf Islands, where private business owners have frequently stepped in to provide services in the absence of any public body doing so. Often those stepping in to the gap have not secured proper zoning first.
“We’ve got to find solutions that work for the community first and foremost, because these are needed services,” Patrick said.
“We have to have a wider community discussion about managing our waste in an environmental and land-use compliant way. Let’s solve this for John and for the greater island, because this is a service we need and want.”