Plans for a new gravel operation on 256th Street are running into a buzz saw of opposition – even before an open house has been held on the proposal.
District of Maple Ridge staff have already fired off a response to the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations for the plan for the 79-hectare Blue Mountain Quarry at the north end of 256th Street, saying the proposal doesn’t fit in with long-term discussions on figuring out a Blue Mountain recreation plan.
“This proposal doesn’t seem to conform with that strategy,” said Maple Ridge’s public works general manager Frank Quinn.
Neither does the location fit with the official community plan because it lies outside the areas identified for gravel operations, Quinn added.
Not to forget the environmental concerns of blazing a five-kilometre road through forest from 272nd Street and Dewdney Trunk Road, to the quarry at the north end of 256th Street. Portions of the route would use logging roads that already exist.
“We have asked for a full and thorough public process,” Quinn said.
He said district staff did have a preliminary talk earlier this year with Canadian Aggregates, which has made the application as part of a joint venture with Katzie First Nation.
“Then this application just appeared.”
The Chilliwack district of the Natural Resources Operations also opposes the idea and said so in a blunt letter to its own resource authorizations office in Surrey.
Clearing the quarry site would diminish the long-term timber supply, while building the road would eliminate another 21 hectares of forest. The Chilliwack forest district also says the area overlaps Woodlots W0007 (BCIT), W0038 (Blue Mountain Woodlot) and W0086 (Kwantlen First Nation).
As for the mountain bikers, motorcyclists and hikers who use the mountain now, the quarry would have a “substantial negative impact on the recreational resource.”
Jim Bradshaw’s group, the Blue Mountain-Kanaka Creek Conservation Group, also opposes the quarry application, fearing damage to streams and the aquifer. He says BCIT and Kwantlen oppose the quarry, too, as does the Webster’s Corners Community Association.
Garnet Mierau, with Canadian Aggregates, said he wants to hear what people are thinking.
“This is why we do the public referral process.”
He said the company has had claims in the area since 2005 and previously discussed with the district using 256th Street as the access road for its gravel trucks.
“But a lot of concerns were raised about that,” which led to the proposal of building a new gravel road access to 272nd Street.
“We had the public interest at heart when we came up with this route. It avoids all the residential areas and comes out at Dewdney Trunk Road,” Mierau said.
“I think we’ve struck a good balance here because it basically avoids the residential community.”
The road would also skirt the forest reserve area for Kanaka Creek Regional Park, but
would run less than a kilometre from some residential areas.
Sayers Crescent resident Heather Boyd is one of those concerned about the quarry and said the maps provided showed no street location.
The ministry has since released a better map.
Mierau said the quarry would produce crushed rock and road bed gravel, up to 225,000 cubic metres a year.
The district of Maple Ridge, however, has a policy which limits gravel removal from that area to 300,000 cubic metres, until the road system is expanded.
Mierau asked that the public comment period be extended to the end of January, after which an open house will take place.
“The most important thing for us is to make sure we’re very transparent.”
He said he expected feedback and said it’s early in the process.
“I think there’s a lot of ways we can work together.”