Cattle could be soon be grazing on lands by the Westside Connector at the end of Westridge Drive to reduce wildfire hazard in Williams Lake.
President and owner of Westridge Ventures Ltd, Luigi Mandarino has submitted an application for a temporary use permit that would be valid for three years with provision for another three year extension.
“We have about 50 acres below the development and we cut the trees about 4-5 years ago. And there’s lot of grass-they grow so tall in the spring especially when when we have a wet spring and then in the summer they dry out so any spark could create a really big problem for us.”
Mandarino says that the application would see a maximum of 30 cattle that would not be on site all year, but rather for only a few months in the spring and then in the fall again.
He says that everyone he has talked to have been supportive of the idea.
“Cows they don’t make any noise except when they step on grass and the only time they moo it’s because they are hungry or are separated from their babies, and they don’t jump fences,” says Mandarino.
“Plus they just eat. What else can you put in that can eat the grass so quickly ?”
Councillor Scott Nelson called the application on Tuesday true Cariboo ingenuity.
“It’s something that will help reduce potential fires in that area, and you can actually see where there had been fires before and where the cattle have been to eat the grass-the fire literally stops at that point and many different locations. This is Cariboo ingenuity at its’ best and I will be supporting this.”
Mayor Walt Cobb said that he thinks it’s a great idea with Councillors Laurie Walters and Sue Zacharias calling it innovative.
“I’ve worked on a ranch so I know how loud the cows can be,” said Councillor Craig Smith asking how close the lands are to neighboring property and how Mandarino would address any complaints from neighbors.
“I think it’s a great idea, but that would be my only worry.”
The subject lands are currently zoned as single family residential under the City of Williams Lake zoning bylaw which allows primary single family dwellings.
If approved Mandinaro says they would build the fence in April and have the cows from Phil Stafford on the lands in April.
“I appreciated they understood what I was trying to do,” says Mandarino noting that the fence to build for the cattle will cost between $20,000-$30,000.
“Anything that can mitigate or control fires on Westridge or any place in the City, I think is a good idea.”