Province to investigate district allegations around proposed rock quarry

District alleges gravel pit applicant may be in contravention to Mines Act.

The province will be investigating concerns raised by the district regarding a provincial permit application for a rock quarry at 200 Old Town Road.

At their Nov. 27 meeting, Sicamous council received a letter from B.C. Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett, thanking they mayor and councillors for meeting with him in September at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention. During this meeting, council raised concerns about  gravel removal within the district.

The letter refers to contraventions of the province’s Mines Act suspected by the district in relation to the proposed quarry. District administrator Heidi Frank said the ministry is responding by sending an inspector to investigate the district’s allegations.

“Then the assistant deputy minister will discuss the matter with the regional inspector, and then follow up with us. So that’s their commitment on that,” said Frank.

District staff first raised concerns about a proposed gravel pit on Old Town Road in December. The proposal included excavation, crushing, screening and blasting. Community planning officer Mike Marrs explained the mine would contravene the district’s official community plan and local zoning, and that there were already issues of encroachment that had yet to be rectified. Concerns were also raised regarding noise, the scope of the operation and truck traffic, which Marrs said would further diminish the lifespan of the Sicamous-Solsqua road bridge.

The applicant, Murray Hillson, told the News he hoped the gravel pit would supply the nearby Old Town Bay development, and not cause wear on the bridge. As for blasting and crushing, he said this would occur over a two-week period late fall or early spring.

As for a public information meeting, Hillson said he would push the ministry to make it happen. To date there has been no such meeting.

Council’s UBCM visit also paid off with a follow-up letter from B.C. Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Todd Stone.

“It was great to have a chance to discuss your local highway infrastructure, and I recognize you would like to see some improvements made at the octopus intersection (Trans-Canada Highway/ Highway 97A/ Main Street/ Trans-Canada Frontage Road) by the Shell station in town to improve safety at this location,” writes Stone.

Frank said the good news is that representatives from the ministry will be meeting with staff on Thursday, Dec. 12, to discuss a plan.

 

“So it works, these meetings,” added Frank.