Katzie adamantly oppose Pitt quarry

Thirty-day write-in campaign begins to make case against quarry

Debbie and Susan Miller of the Katzie Band claim the proposed quarry in Sheridan Hills sits on disputed native land.

The Katzie Indian Band is formally opposed to the proposed quarry on Sheridan Hill, both because it has historical significance to their people, and because it is part of the territory they have claimed in the treaty process.

“We are adamantly opposed to the quarry development,” said Chief Susan Miller.

She said the Katzie received what she would call an “exploratory letter” from Meadows Quarry, but have not been formally consulted about the project. The company proposes to remove the top 30 metres of the hill, reducing its height from 75 to 45 m, over five years of gravel hauling.

At this stage, she said the Katzie would rather deal with the province at a “government to government level.”

“We cannot be ignored in our aboriginal rights and title,” added Debbie Miller, the Katzie’s chief negotiator.

The Katzie are in Stage 4 of the six-stage treaty process. They are considering a settlement offer of land and cash from the Canadian government, and are moving toward self governance.

In the Katzie genesis story, the creator placed one of the first chiefs, Swaneset, on top of Sheridan Hill, which was then the tallest peak in the territory, the story says. From there, it called on the help of the creator to make the Fraser and Alouette River and other waterways, and shaped the land. He then left the earth, and returned to Sheridan with a wife who brought animals, and taught people how to use these gifts.

“It’s the genesis story for not just our nation, but several other nations,” said Chief Miller.

So, a recent flight over Sheridan hill was a sad sight for the chief, as she viewed the Lafarge quarry operations on the northern side of hill.

“It’s emotionally traumatic to see the devastation that has happened on the north side, let alone the south side.

The Katzie are among thousands who oppose the project, and have signed a petition organized by neighbours of the proposed quarry.

 

30-days to oppose

At the Pitt Meadows council meeting on March 17, Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows MLA Doug Bing noted that residents have 30 days from that date to write and declare their opposition to the quarry project. He would like to see a determined response from opponents, and said hard copy letters have more impact than emails.

“It’s very important in the next 30 days that people do that. I would love to see hundreds, even thousands emails or letters sent. That would show very strong opposition to this project,” said Bing.

They would write to the chief inspector of mines, c/o Mines and Mineral Resources Division Southwest Region, PO Box 9395, Stn. Prov, Victoria, B.C., V8W-9M9 or email southwestminesdivision@gov.bc.ca.

Darcey Heath, a McNeil Road resident who is organizing the opposition to the quarry, said those wishing to write can email their letter to savesheridanhill@gmail.com, and her group will ensure that a hard copy is mailed to the ministry.

She also appeared before council, proposing that opponents lobby for a full environmental assessment of the quarry.

She noted that process would have been mandatory if the quarry were to remove 250,000 tonnes per year.

Bing said he would arrange meetings with mines ministry staff if Pitt Meadows politicians come to Victoria and lobby against the quarry in person. Becker said he will try to organize the trip.

“I’m utterly totally and completely opposed to this quarry, and will do whatever I can to help you oppose it,” Bing told council,

Councillor Mike Stark presented Bing with a petition that already includes thousands of signatures.

Becker said the quarry is neither a partisan issue, nor an environment-versus-development issue

“This is a god-awful project in the heart of our community, pursued by a single individual,” he said.

On March 25 there will be a meeting of quarry opponents at city hall, at 7 p.m.

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