News Views: Quarry a blessing?

The intentions to open another gravel pit in the north end of 256th Street has provoked a firestorm of opposition.

The intentions to open another gravel pit in the north end of 256th Street has provoked a firestorm of opposition, from denunciations by the district, to predicted and expected opposition from the folks on 256th Street, where the big trucks rumble.

The obstacles are many: from trying to find a way to fit it into Maple Ridge’s official community plan, to environmental, forestry and transportation concerns, to what could be massive disruption to the recreational uses (hiking, mountain biking and motorcycle riding) that have been carved out of Blue Mountain and which will one day result in an integrated recreational strategy.

Nevertheless, the proposal deserves a serious look.

Katzie First Nation and Canadian Aggregates want to build a five-kilometre road through the forest to connect the 79-hectare quarry at the north end of 256th Street, southeast to Dewdney Trunk Road and 272nd Street.

That will spare trucks having to run down 256th Street, although the number of big trucks on Dewdney Trunk Road will only increase. That issue still awaits a possible eastward extension of Abernethy Way to 256th Street to provide an alternate, east-west route, a long-term project.

Clearly, any future scenario for Blue Mountain involves long-term use.

The mountain is already cut up into several wood lots for sustainable forestry, and motorcycles and mountain bikes have also carved themselves out a piece of the mountain. A park future for Blue Mountain is not part of the government’s plans and residents in the area should know that.

A new road though the forest, built at the applicant’s cost and with regard to the environment, offers opportunities and challenges, as those familiar with the area recognize.

It could allow recreational and forestry users better access, proper staging areas and improved outdoor facilities that would serve as a springboard for future recreational development, part of which would see 256th Street extended north to Alouette Lake.

Maple Ridge, in conjunction with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, could create a grand strategy, maximizing recreational use and preserving forestry and sustainable development that could serve for decades and ensure Maple Ridge’s future as the outdoor recreation destination for Metro Vancouver.

– Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News