Maple Ridge council has an idea now about how people feel about the gravel pit planned for 236th Street and 124th Avenue.
People packed the council chambers Monday and crowded in the hallway outside to denounce the proposal by Donada Industries and Dave Telep to haul 400,000 cubic metres of gravel from 37 acres at 23613 – 124th Ave., using that avenue as an access point.
“It’s among the most ridiculous proposals that you would ever receive,” said geologist Darin Wagner.
“I’m surprised that it would receive any sort of serious consideration anywhere in Maple Ridge.”
“Never, in my entire career, spanning 25 years, I’ve never seen such an ill-conceived, poorly planned … mine proposal.”
Approving it could set a precedent for other such operations.
“Kill this proposal, dead, here, now,” he said to loud applause.
Dr. Alan Hargreaves, who practises at the Ridge Meadows Hospital, warned about possible health risks.
“We know that dust can actually kill you,” not immediately but in the long term, increasing health care costs, he said, adding there are no studies of residents who live near mines.
Silica is a known carcinogen, Hargreaves said, pointing out that the body can eliminate large dust particles, but not smaller ones. That could result in long-term health issues such as asthma or chronic breathing problems.
“It’s important to note, there is no safe threshold for particulate nature,” he said.
Donada Industries and Rae-Glenn International Development want to remove the gravel, then bring in soil to allow hay production. Doing so requires approval from the Agricultural Land Commission for non-farm use within the agricultural reserve.
However, Maple Ridge council can stop the project by refusing to forward the application to the commission.
Telep told council that the gravel must be removed in order to grow hay, adding that he has three such properties in Maple Ridge where he already does that.
“Today, those crops produce good crops for the local community.
“I would like to farm these parcels,” saying he wants to make another piece of property into “good, usable farmland.”
He said he has owned the property for about 30 years and that he cleared scrub trees from it three times.
“Steve Hamilton [a realtor] wanted me to donate it to the municipality for a park, for everybody,” he said, adding he’d be willing to sell the property.
John McKenzie, a construction manager for the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, who claimed he has lots of experience with gravel pits, said the location is a poor to moderate site.
Dust from gravel pits is abrasive, he said, while the noise from the pit will reach to Rock Ridge.
Hamilton, whose property is 40 metres from the site, said the application will test the spirit, strength and values of the Official Community Plan, the long-term document that guides growth in the district.
Staff later told council the proposal would require changing the OCP to allow mining in the area. The soil removal bylaw also would have to change, if the proposal receives council’s approval, then gets approved by the ALC.
“Just keep it as agricultural land,” he said to more applause.
Council agreed to send the proposal to its regular meeting Oct. 9, when it will decide whether to send the application for non-farm use to the land commission.