Burton Cummings in B.C. land dispute



Burton Cummings, who received an Order of Canada from Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean in 2010, is locked in a battle over a development near his property on Vancouver Island.

Canadian singer Burton Cummings is making no apologies for using his fame to try to help people in his community stop a compost facility from being built in his Vancouver Island neighbourhood.

The perennial music star and former lead singer of The Guess Who says huge trucks filled with untested soil for construction have damaged property on his rural street in Central Saanich, north of Victoria.

"I go up [there] to hide from my fame, basically," Cummings said. "It's been a beautiful retreat and right in the centre of it now is this awful nightmare. And I know, I'm sure, that once enough people realize that this is happening, this will be stopped."

Cummings said he's also worried about the fill and the compost polluting a stream that runs between his land and the property where the facility is being built.

He said he's gone public because local governments have not addressed community concerns.

But Central Saanich Mayor Jack Mar said he's not confident anything can be done to stop the development.

Provincial "right to farm" legislation allows compost facilities on farmland, Mar said.

"If it's for farm purpose, they don't need a permit," he said. "And we said that if you're selling product, and then it becomes a commercial operation —that's when our bylaws kick in. They said, 'No, we'll put it all on our farmland.' So we have no say in it until they break the rules."

Mar said he's hosting a public information meeting for neighbours of the farm on Friday.