Williams Lake Council gave unanimous approval to a proposed temporary permit allowing cattle grazing at the end of Westridge Drive.
An overwhelming majority of the public spoke out against the application firmly expressing that cattle are not the full solution when it comes to mitigating wildfire hazards.
After more than 2 hours of discussion council, in the end, gave approval to the temporary permit subject to six stipulations including:
- no new structures allowed to be erected on the property
- no use of insecticide, pesticide, or herbicide
- forestry standard fending be placed as per the standards of Ministry of Agirulculutre
- gates to be installed as part of fencing at the end of Foster Way and Westridge Drive
- a maximum of 60 head of cattle shall be allowed on the subject properties for grazing purposes
- the duration of the temporary use permit subject to an annual review to be set for a maximum of 3 years without automatic renewal
“I think overall I would of liked it just not to go through it all, but I think they made a good compromise on what was happening there,” says resident Jay Cheek.
“The whole issue I was having was that fence down on Foster and Westridge, and gates there. Say what you will about not opening those gates, but kids will be kids and then they’ll be open and there they go.”
Council also amended the permit requiring the developer, Luigi Mandarino of Westridge Ventures to move the fencing so the grazing land is further away from homes, and to explore the opportunity in partnership with the City and the Fire Department for fire mitigation on the approximate 5 acres that will not have cattle.
“I think the biggest part is that we’re going to monitor it for the first year and see where it goes from there,” says Mayor Walt Cobb.
“I believe and I guess we’ll wait until we’re proven wrong, but I believe some of the concerns are unfounded.”
“Safety is an issue but as Bill Stafford said one of the biggest problems could be that if people let their dogs run and chase the cows then there is going to be an issue, but I would hope that the residents there will not just let their dogs run and start chasing cows.”
Although places like Boitanio Park would not be an option to have cattle to mitigate fire risk, Cobb believes that there is a lot of crown land on the west side that could possibly be fenced.
“But we have to convince the Crown to allow it to happen and put the funding in place to make it happen,” he says.
Rancher Bill Stafford said that he would bring the cattle into Mandarino’s lots in April take them out in May and then bring them back again for another month in the fall.
Stafford noted that his cattle already graze on an adjacent Crown land grazing permit.
Mandarino said in February that he was seeking the temporary permit on his three parcels of undeveloped land to mitigate fire risk.