Despite an electoral area director’s objection, qathet Regional District’s planning committee is recommending that the regional board express no objection to the expansion of a sand, gravel and quarry operation near Stevenson Road, south of Powell River.
At the planning committee meeting on Tuesday, April 9, the committee considered a BC Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Mines Act amendment to add an area of 5.7 hectares north and west of the existing quarry. The planning committee was to consider a recommendation to allow the expansion with five conditions, but Electoral Area B director Mark Gisborne introduced a motion that qathet Regional District (qRD) strongly oppose the application due to noise and dust from the screening and crushing, and the potential of the operation to contaminate groundwater downslope from the quarry.
Gisborne said the staff report indicated that the regional district adopted a resolution in 2009 that it was strongly opposed to the proposed sand, gravel and quarry operation. In 2011 the regional district opposed expansion of the operation due to negative impacts to Southhill Acres residents.
“We all know how far that opposition went with the ministry of mines,” said Gisborne.
In spite of initial objections by the regional district, the quarry operation was allowed to proceed. Gisborne said, however, he would be remiss in his duties as director to not represent the concerns of his constituents. Concerns have been expressed for the last 10 years regarding the operation of the quarry, he added.
“This district should stand behind the 2009 resolution that says we opposed it,” said Gisborne.
Electoral Area D director Sandy McCormick asked why the current recommendation was taking an opposite point of view to the original motion.
Manager of planning services Laura Roddan said qRD staff reviews each application to see if it complies with regional district bylaws. She said the staff report highlights several policy sections of the Area B official community plan (OCP). Gravel extraction is an allowable use on the designated provincial crown land and the OCP bylaw encourages economic development. It also recognizes and supports existing businesses.
“This business has been in operation since 2009, it employs eight full and part-time employees and it provides an important source of gravel that is used locally,” said Roddan. “Those are the main reasons staff recommends supporting the application.”
In addition, when staff looked at the 2009 and 2011 board motions, all of the conditions stipulated by qRD have been complied with. Staff confirmed with the provincial ministry that the applicant is in good standing in complying with the conditions and environmental regulations.
Electoral Area A director Patrick Brabazon said the application meets the conditions of the Area B OCP and he saw no reason to oppose the application.
Gisborne said the application is compliant with the OCP but the regional district is requested to make comments and he thinks it should represent the concerns of the residents that the operation is close to a neighbourhood.
“We’re not opposed to the expansion of the quarry, we’re just opposed to the quarry being located there,” said Gisborne.
Roddan said since 2011, qRD has received no complaints from anyone in Southhill Acres about the sand and gravel operation. She does recall in the 2011 there were a number of residents concerned, but in the years since there have been no complaints received regarding the operation.
Gisborne said he had received a complaint the day of the planning meeting.
The planning committee defeated the motion to object to the application and carried the original motion to support it, with Gisborne opposed.