Neighbours oppose 124th Ave. gravel pit

Property owners want to extract 400,000 cubic metres over two, three years.

To Katherine Wagner it defies commonsense to put a gravel pit in the middle of a suburb, but she is leaving nothing to chance.

“We have to fight this for all we’re worth right now. It almost requires us to oppose it as strongly as possible, at this point,” said the former school trustee.

Wagner lives on 236A Street and was among the 150 residents who joined in a neighbourhood stroll Saturday, showing their opposition to a proposal to put in a 15-acre gravel pit on two properties that total 37 acres at 236th Street and 124th Avenue.

Wagner started a Facebook page on the topic, which has generated 2,800 views and drawn 11 friends, letters have been written, someone’s collecting a petition, and residents intend on showing up in strength Oct. 1 and 9, when the proposal hits Maple Ridge council’s agenda.

This Friday at 7:30 p.m., there’s another meeting at Yennadon elementary for residents who don’t yet know about the plan.

“I just can’t sit back and hope that common sense rules the day,” Wagner said Monday.

“We’re very hopeful that this is just an inconvenience.”

People are concerned about noise, dust, heavy gravel trucks rumbling down narrow roads, dropping property values, and environmental effects, should the project go ahead.

The property’s three owners (Donada Industries, Rae Glenn Industrial Development and Earl Bremner) want to extract gravel from the site over a two- to three-year period.

About 400,000 cubic metres of gravel would be mined, with trucks using 124th Avenue, connecting to 232nd Street as the access and exit points.

Once the gravel’s removed, part of the site would be reclaimed and top soil placed, to allow for agricultural use, according to a notice sent earlier this year to the Agricultural Land Commission.

The commission, in turn, ordered that a non-farm use application be filed, which first must pass Maple Ridge council.

Wagner’s heard the project isn’t likely to get council’s support, but she’s worried that local politicians may simply pass the issue on to the Agricultural Land Commission.

Council can have the final say on the project by simply refusing to forward an application for non-farm use to the commission.

Wagner estimates 50,000 gravel trucks would be needed to haul out the gravel.

Former Maple Ridge councillor Craig Speirs lives in the area on 124th Avenue. At this point, council is the residents’ best friend, Speirs said.

“I think the residents are really making their point. They’re not happy with this. Anytime you get 150 people show up … you know you have a  really big issue cooking.”

Speirs said the problem facing council is one that’s caused by sprawl. By allowing one-acre homes in the area, the district has made it difficult to allow gravel extraction there. It’s one thing for homes to be built near existing gravel pits, and another to put gravel pit near existing homes.

He also said if a gravel crusher is used on the site, that it could be heard as far as Rock Ridge, at the north end of 232nd Street.

Residents plan to speak at Maple Ridge council meetings on Oct. 1 and 9, when the politicians consider the project.

“There’s so much wildlife around here,” said Wagner.