It’s a blight on the community.
That’s how former B.C. premier Bill Vander Zalm sums up the clutter, made up of vehicles and other materials, on the Hothi farm near the corner of 44th Avenue and Arthur Drive in Ladner.
Vander Zalm, who lives just down the street, says many others he’s spoken to about the property have had enough, and want the city and provincial government to do something about it.
“I’ve been chasing this for two years and nothing gets done. They seem to be getting away with murder and all the things you would never see get allowed in an Agricultural Land Reserve property, they’re doing it,” he said.
In a recent letter to the mayor, Vander Zalm complained the property was being used as a “cheap dump.”
The property has been a contentious one for the City of Delta, which lodged a complaint to the Farm Industry Review Board about excessive and unsightly storage of vehicles, equipment and more. Delta also claimed activities on the farm negatively impacted the adjacent Hawthorne Grove Park as well as neighbouring residents’ properties.
That complaint two years ago was dismissed by the review board, which ruled although the activities of the farm could be considered an “eyesore,” they don’t fall within the definition of “other disturbance” which the board can rule on, such as odour, noise or dust.
Delta bylaws manager Hugh Davies told the Delta Optimist the city has been working directly with the operators, Santokh Hothi and his son Sukhjeaven Hothi, toward resolving the issues. He noted one of the issues the city faces in urban-farm conflict cases is that farmers are covered by right to farm legislation that can override city bylaws.
Sukhjeaven Hothi confirmed they have been working with the city.
“We’ll be moving the equipment again. We use most of the equipment but whatever we don’t use, and we’ve talked with the city, we’ll move it and scrap it,” he explained.
They are also looking at building a storage bay, but a big challenge they’re currently working to resolve is having a more suitable access for the property, which currently can only be accessed from the Sacred Heart School site. A small separate bridge from Arthur Drive would help resolve many of the problems, he noted.
Davies confirmed the city is working with the operators on better access.
The farmers had previously been at odds with the city over a storage building on the site which had been issued a stop work order during construction, but Davies said that matter has been resolved.