Maple Ridge council may not be able to do anything about Blue Mountain quarry

B.C. government has power to decide on proposal for gravel pit and access road.

Maple Ridge staff and council have slammed a proposal to put in a 79-acre gravel pit at the north end of 256th Street that would operate for a century. But they might not be able to do anything about it.

Staff say the proposal by Katzie First Nation and Canadian Aggregates for the Blue Mountain Quarry takes place on provincial forests that supply Maple Ridge streams and which stabilize steep slopes and serve as a source of wildlife and habitat.

The quarry could be just the first of many First Nations gravel operations on Blue Mountain, which “could potentially permanently change the face and character of the landscape,” of Maple Ridge, says a staff report.

Council was to vote at its Tuesday meeting on whether to send a letter to the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, MLA Marc Dalton and Katzie First Nation, stating its opposition to the quarry and listing its concerns.

One concern raised at Monday’s meeting was the identity of Canadian Aggregates, the corporate side of the joint venture.

Coun. Cheryl Ashlie said she couldn’t find anything online about the company.

“I find it odd that there’s nothing on them. There’s no website that you can pull up.”

She also wondered why, if the quarry has been discussed for six years, council is just hearing about it.

“This is amazing to me.

“I’m very concerned about this.”

She also wanted staff to contact the Katzie band.

Blue Mountain Quarry would process up to 225,000 cubic metres of sand and gravel a year. Depending on when supply contracts are being issued, that could mean dozens of trucks rumbling along local roads daily in a concentrated period of time. An application has been made to the Integrated Land Management Bureau and an open house is planned this year.

Canadian Aggregates spokesman Garnet Mierau said previously he wants public input.

The gravel operation will impact local roads and Maple Ridge has to be clear it wants the effects addressed, said Coun. Al Hogarth.

If a new access road is built from north 256th Street running southeast to Dewdney Trunk Road and 272nd Street, trucks could use 272nd to hook up to Lougheed Highway, Hogarth pointed out.

“I’d really like to know who the heck Canadian Aggregates is and what is their ability and what are their intentions here.”

Mayor Ernie Daykin said it may not be clear if the gravel operation would have to pay royalties or fees in return for using district roads, but “I think we will require them.

“We expect to be compensated.”

But Coun. Michael Morden said the project could proceed without Maple Ridge’s OK and that both the district and Katzie should work on a gravel strategy that benefits both.

District chief administrator Jim Rule said the provincial government has the power to decide what happens on Crown land on Blue Mountain.

“The best thing we can do is lobby, lobby, lobby.”

Carving out a gravel pit from the Blue Mountain forest normally would require compliance with Maple Ridge’s official community plan, its zoning, soil removal and watercourse protection bylaws and stream protection regulations.

But because the quarry would be on Crown land, no such permits are needed.

“Our understanding is because it’s on Crown land, they do not have to comply with any of these bylaws,” public works general manager Frank Quinn told council on Monday.

But he said the district should ask the province to require those.

Council was to vote Tuesday on a resolution calling for a public consultation process, an environmental impact assessment, a traffic impact study and a report showing how the quarry would fit in with a Blue Mountain recreation strategy which is intended allocate the mountain to various groups such as mountain bikers, motorcyclists, hikers and horseback riders.

The Chilliwack forest district, part of the natural resources ministry, opposes the application because of the impact on existing woodlots, small, sustainable logging operations, on Blue Mountain.

Quinn said in his report it’s not even clear if the proposal will require any kind of environmental assessment.

Who is Canadian Aggregates?

Do a Google search for Canadian Aggregates and nothing comes in the normally ambitious search engine.

Check the Aggregate Producers Association of B.C. and it’s not on that list, either.

According to B.C. Registry Services, however, Canadian Aggregates is based both in Surrey and Kamloops.

The company’s office has a Kamloops address and company vice-president David Taylor lives in Kamloops.

Company treasurer James Taylor has a Surrey address, while president George Hatch also lives in Surrey.

According to the application, contact person for the Katzie First Nation is chief Jay Bailey.

He didn’t return calls.