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Pitt Polder gravel pit expansion approved

Pitt River Quarries has mined gravel from its current site in the Pitt Polder since the 1960s and wants to expand the life of it. Its revised expansion plan will see the mine grow along a natural draw or gully, leaving behind most of the mound that is known as Sheridan Hill. - Pitt River Quarries
Pitt River Quarries has mined gravel from its current site in the Pitt Polder since the 1960s and wants to expand the life of it. Its revised expansion plan will see the mine grow along a natural draw or gully, leaving behind most of the mound that is known as Sheridan Hill.
— image credit: Pitt River Quarries

A gravel mine in the Pitt Polder has been given the green light to expand.

Approval from the provincial Ministry of Energy and Mines was rubber-stamped just before Christmas, four months after Lafarge Canada Inc. tweaked its plans to move the mine’s boundary further away from homes.

Pitt River Quarries’ revised plan shifted the proposed mine expansion 200 metres away from the nearest houses on Sheridan Hill. The distance was double the original 100-metre setback originally set out.

The changes to the expansion plan follow a heated public meeting between Lafarge and Sheridan Hill residents last March.

“We revised the plans to address the concerns of the public,” said Brad Kohl, general manager of aggregates and marine division for Lafarge Canada (Vancouver area).

The current gravel mine has enough stone and rock for another 20 years of extraction and covers 54.7 hectares.

The proposed expansion will allow Lafarge Canada to continue mining at the site for an additional 10 to 15 years.

The expansion will now follow a “natural draw,” or gully, that exists in the rocky outcrop.

Kohl hopes residents who initially opposed the expansion are satisfied with the revised plans. He hasn’t received any negative feedback since the changes were announced last summer.

“We followed the process,” said Kohl. “Now, hopefully, we can go back to being good neighbours.”

Residents who vocally fought the mine expansion, in both its revised and original form, were surprised to find out its permit was approved.

They still remain concerned for wildlife, the destruction of vegetation and the eventual grinding down of a hill that’s a landmark in the Pitt Polder and which is purported to be the location of a lost gold mine. It also figures prominently in First Nations legends.

Brent Richards said the provincial government promised to notify him of any developments.

He hasn’t received a letter or verbal confirmation that Pitt River Quarries’ expansion had been rubber-stamped.

“It should have been common courtesy to let us know,” said Richards.

The gravel mine has been located on Sheridan Hill since the 1960s, before a tony subdivision was built near it.

Besides supplying gravel to nearby municipalities and developments, the quarry was a major supplier of aggregate for the Pitt River Bridge.

It is currently supplying cement for the construction of the new Port Mann Bridge.

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