There would likely be blasting at a new quarry on Sheridan Hill already, if not for the opposition of Pitt Meadows City Hall and residents.
Mayor John Becker said the process for the Ministry of Energy and Mines to approve a quarry is like a “negative billing option.” The applicant files a notice of work, and it is up to neighbours or other opponents – including a municipal government – to “ramp up their opposition in a very short time,” he said.
The original application called for work to begin in early April.
“If we had been asleep on this one, it would have been a complete disaster,” said Becker.
The applicant, Meadows Quarry of Maple Ridge, would like to start a quarry on the south side of Sheridan Hill, removing 240,000 tonnes per year, and lowering the height of the hill by 30 metres, to 45 metres from 75.
The City of Pitt Meadows and Katzie First Nations are ramping up their official opposition to the Sheridan Hill quarry.
Pitt Meadows will formally request an archeological investigation of Sheridan Hill and a full environmental assessment of the proposed quarry there.
At the same time, the Katzie First Nation has called for “an immediate halt to the mining development proposal at our creation site, Sheridan Hill,” in a press release from Chief Susan Miller.
“As a nation, we are not willing to let our rights be further extinguished and are prepared to assert these rights,” said Miller.
“We must ensure that our traditional territory’s cultural and ecological sites are protected for future generations of the Katzie people, as well as for our friends and neighbours who reside here. We stand united with them as our partners in protest of this development.”
She explained that Katzie territory includes land from the Pitt and Alouette watersheds, and land on both sides of the Fraser River in Pitt Meadows, Langley and Surrey.
She said the Katzie’s rights were infringed upon through the existing Lafarge quarry on the north side of Sheridan Hill, which was done without the band’s consent.
“Given that we have not been consulted or accommodated, we feel that it is important to make this public declaration: We do not consent to the continued destruction of Sheridan Hill and the site of our creation story,” said Miller. “Further destruction to this cultural site is like erasing our beginning, which further extinguishes our sense of identity and sense of place. We can’t allow that to happen.”
The motions before council at last night’s meeting were to have staff write the Ministry of Energy and Mines, requesting that the Katzie be provided with an opportunity to conduct an archaeological investigation, and that a hold be put on processing the quarry application until it is done.
It is also asking for copies of technical reports done to support the quarry application, and that the quarry’s approval be postponed until the city has time to review them.
The city will also write the Ministry of Environment, requesting a full environmental assessment be required for the quarry application, “on the basis that the proposed extraction volume of 240,000 tonnes per year was chosen in order to avoid the mandatory requirement for an environmental assessment at 250,000 tonnes per year and the concern that there will be little or no senior government oversight on the project to ensure that no more than 240,000 tonnes per year is extracted.”
Becker said these measures are “an attempt to slow this runaway train,” and added that the approval process is done with a “ridiculous time frame.”
He added: “It insults the notion of consultation and due process.”