Neighbour objects to quarry expansion at Stony Ridge

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Wednesday, April 15 2015

Neighbours of Stony Ridge Aggregate, which currently quarries sandstone from its property off South Road, are asking the Gabriola Local Trust Committee (LTC) to object to an application from the company to amend its mining permit to use an air drill.

As mining activity falls under the jurisdiction of the Mines Act, the decision whether to issue the permit amendment rests with the Government of British Columbia.

The company, owned and operated by Gabriola Island resident David Lorette, has held a permit since 1994 to mine sand, gravel and sandstone on their property, located at 1400 South Road on Gabriola Island.

The proposed change would allow Stony Ridge to use an air drill to excavate the stone in larger pieces suitable for building repair and construction. 

Trust staff noted Gabriola sandstone has been used for a number of historic buildings, and the current application was initiated following an inquiry to the company regarding their capacity to provide sandstone to repair a historic cathedral in Vancouver.

Staff say the applicant has stated the air drill is likely to be quieter than the current method of excavation by breaking using force, though the applicant has said to staff that he has not yet received any noise complaints in twenty years of operations.

The applicant has stated there is no plan to use explosives as part of the extraction process.

Mike Phillips, a neighbour to the Stony Ridge area, presented to the Gabriola Local Trust Committee during the town hall segment of the LTC’s meeting last Thursday morning.

He noted this was an expansion of mining which is already happening adjacent to McGuffy’s Marsh.

“This is going to be a full-blown, noisy and industrial operation in the heart of a residential and environmentally sensitive area. The applicant claims he has never received a noise complaint. I have to tell you, that place gets worse than the Rod and Gun Club ever was before the club brought in noise control. 

“I think the reality is the neighbours are so fed up with the place they don’t want anything to do with it. And you hate to do a formal complaint, because that means turning in a neighbour.

“I think you’ll need to put pressure on - rethink your approach to this, toughen things up and require inspection of the current site, whether reclamation will be done. I think you should come out with a strong recommendation that drilling not be permitted on that site because it is not appropriate.”

Phillips suggested that even if the LTC has no jurisdiction, the worst it can do is put in an objection and have the province ignore it.

“If you’ve had an opportunity to put in an objection to that and you don’t, then it’s a done deal.

“They can throw it out, but if you don’t try, you’re missing a big bet.”

Trust staff said they had already responded to the referral request with a technical report, noting there was nothing in the amendment application which was contrary to the Gabriola Official Community Plan or Land Use Bylaw (LUB).

Trustee Heather Nicholas said that she felt it was appropriate to recognize there are community concerns about this particular use in a residential area.

“Even if it recognizes those concerns while recognizing there is nothing specific in our LUB that would prohibit this use. It may not result in material change, but I can see us wanting to recognize the concerns from our community.”

Trustee Melanie Mamoser said, “If they are asking for an amendment to a permit, I’d like to know how they are complying with regards to the current permit.”

She added there is a history of industrial processes on Gabriola, but it predates the formation of the Islands Trust.

“I don’t know if that’s something of the scale and type of industry that preserves and protects the islands.”

She also noted that with the recent issues with the new quarry on Valdes where the federal government had jurisdiction, the quarry owners were asked to shut down during eagle nesting periods and spawning times

“Because of our interest in the environment - can nesting times be respected? Is that something where we can engage the landowner?”

The Trustees made a motion to send a referral response from the Gabriola Local Trust Committee which requested:

• There be adequate protection of McGuffy’s Marsh.

• Ensure current noise issues related to the current operation are addressed.

• Any impact on the water table be addressed.

The LTC had also thought about asking that there be assurance of remediation, but were told by staff there is already a remediation process associated with the process, although Trust staff are not privy to the details of the requirements. Trustees also said they would like concerns expressed to the provincial government that better communication with the community should be undertaken with applications such as this.

Mamoser said, “We need to be clear [with the province] this is happening in a residential area, make sure that is clear.”