WATCH: A proposal to open a quarry near Thetis Lake is hitting some hard opposition. The gravel pit would be located off Millstream in Highlands. Local council already turned the company down, so now they’re looking to the province for the green light. Luisa Alvarez reports
A proposed quarry just off Millstream road in Highlands is getting opposition from Highland residents. Chair of the Highland District Community Association Scott Richardson says the land owned by OK Industries is in a delicate location not suited for surface mining.
” Its basically taking off all of the topsoil everything above it, stripping it bare, damaging the surface creeks. This is a natural area for deer and migratory routes for animals, its beautiful and they will strip it and basically take the level of it down about thirty meters, ” said Richardson.
The land where the quarry would go is also adjacent to Thetis lake regional park, a hazardous waste disposal site, and the districts aquifer. Richardson says they’re concerned their drinking water is at stake.
” To develop gravel you need non stop blasting and they are going to do that immediately beside a poisons landfill it makes no sense when its situated on top of the aquifer. That’s our lifeline and all that separates the poison from the aquifer is a thin layer of membrane,” said Richardson.
In a statement, OK Industries says ” buffer zones will be established to protect existing creeks, Thetis Lake Park, and the closest residents. These buffer zones will detract from
any operational activities. All setbacks will be approved by the ministry.”
But beyond the risk to their environment and the water supply, Richardson says they’re frustrated with the lack of public consultation.
“This is the 21st century, people in our province expect more from the government when it comes to resource decisions they expect to be engaged they expect to be involved and they expect for there to be a fair and unbiased process that didn’t exist today,” said Richardson.
OK industries had previously applied to rezone the land for a gravel pit but that application was rejected by the council.
This time they’ve applied for a mining permit directly through the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, which means it’s up to the province to decide how much public consultation is necessary.
Highlands District Mayor Ken Williams says, the district was contacted by the province and council has put forward their concerns.
“As of now it’s going through a statutory procedure so we are waiting, the ball is in the provinces court at the moment,” said Williams.
Officials with OK Industries say this Ministry has a process that must be followed by all applicants and they have been complying fully with that process.
They add the application process is in its early stages. The company still has to provide additional information to the Ministry before the mining permit can be granted.
And a final decision could take another six months.