A quarry application in northeast Coquitlam near Minnekhada Regional Park has Port Coquitlam politicians gritting their teeth and questioning the timing of the application, as well as potential environmental impacts, affects on road use and perceived lack of public consultation.
"It's odd timing," said PoCo Mayor Greg Moore.
"The public input is happening over the summer and most local governments don't meet in
August, so it's hard for us to provide input. Not to mention most people are on holidays, so I'm not sure why they're rushing this through."
While the official boundary lines of the proposal cover 42 hectares (104 acres) of land in Coquitlam, it does border Port Coquitlam at the corner of Quarry Road and Calgary Drive, facing Minnekhada Regional Park, which residents from all around the Tri-Cities frequent.
Coun. Brad West said he is not only concerned with the location of the proposed site, but by a number of other factors as well.
"The Ministry [of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resources] has a posting on their website, but you know, unless you're looking for it why would you ever come across it?" he said. "They really need to do a thorough consultation, because I don't think that's enough at all.
"When you think about the signage of this area, it would be like if somebody was putting in an application to put in a quarry next to Stanley Park," he said. "This is one of the real gems of our area."
According to West, an interesting point that stood out involved the response of younger people when he announced his disapproval on social media website Twitter.
"This issue, more than any other issue I can remember in the last five years, really seems to galvanize young people in our community," he said.
West and Moore are also concerned about the potential environmental impact of a sand and gravel quarry, as is currently proposed by applicant John Carley.
"Think about the traffic, the trucks, think about the destruction of habitat, the forest, what it does to water courses in the area," West said. "I've been through Minnekhada recently and the bears that are in there, the natural wildlife is abundant there. As I said, I was just shell-shocked. I thought it was a joke.
"Literally, my jaw dropped," he added. Moore agreed with West.
"It's just so quiet and pristine there," Moore said. "To have blasting or machinery there, it could really just destroy the park."
Carley is the sole applicant of the proposed investigative permit and did not return calls before press deadline. However, the application found on the ministry's website does state Carley's plans for the area.
Phase 1 is the investigative phase during which, if issued, Carley will send a crew to drill six test holes into the ground to see whether there is any valuable sand or gravel to extract.
"The test holes will be drilled using a small excavator," the report states. "This type of equipment will allow us to transverse the current vegetation without requiring trails or the removal of trees to access our test holes."
If Carley is successful in his venture, then phase 2 starts the construction and operation of the quarry.
In the permit application the environmental and socio-community impact is listed as follows.
"The proposed drill program will have as minimal an impact on the land as possible," it states. "We are using smaller equipment to allow mobility through existing trees and reduce the impact on the land to access the various locations."
However, this is only for the investigative phase. Construction and operation would be different.
"This quarry should not burden in any way any of the current existing community services or infrastructure," the report states. "There will be no negative impact on public health while doing this drill program. There will be no waste disposal or site contamination."
But this same area is close to the burgeoning Burke Mountain area, which is the City of Coquitlam's biggest target for building new residential neighbourhoods.
The proposed quarry would be directly west of the proposed Partington Creek neighbourhood, which is penned to house 15,000 residents. The land is currently zoned to allow for a gravel quarry and another quarry is located up the road, but the product is shipped out by barge.
Moore and West are urging concerned residents to voice their opinions to the ministry as soon as possible, as comments for the application will be accepted until today (Wednesday, Aug. 28).
Visit arfd.gov.bc.ca/ApplicationPosting/viewpost.jsp?PostID=41885 to view the application and make a comment.
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