Fresh concerns were raised about the proposed BURNCO gravel mine at McNab Creek by Area F Director Ian Winn at the SCRD’s Planning and Community Development committee meeting on March 9.
McNab Creek lies 10 kilometres northeast of Port Mellon on Howe Sound. In 2008 BURNCO Rock Products bought the 230-hectare industrial waterfront property and in 2010 they proposed a gravel mine – a proposal that has been grinding its way through regulatory and environmental approval processes ever since. If the project receives a green light from provincial and federal authorities, it will go to the regional district for rezoning to permit gravel processing.
On March 9 SCRD staff brought forward a report summarizing environmental issues that have not been adequately addressed by BURNCO, such as noise, protection of fish habitat and impacts of sea level rise. Winn spoke to several items, noting that over 25 people had contacted him recently with concerns.
“I’ve heard a lot from boaters who use that McNab Creek estuary,” said Winn, pointing out that BURNCO’s response doesn’t say how the project will impact existing anchorages.
Winn also voiced concerns about who would carry out environmental monitoring on the site and how the public would access that information – an issue that has also been raised around the Woodfibre LNG project.
The gravel mine would most directly affects 16 properties at the mouth of McNab Creek (the McNab Creek Strata). Winn has had discussions with representatives of the strata, who he said are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information generated by the environmental review process, and confused by BURNCO’s recent communications about a possible Community Enhancement Fund.
“There’s a lot of work that has to be done on this,” said Winn, describing the situation as “confusing and contentious.”
During a public comment period last fall, the provincial Environmental Assessment process was flooded with over 600 comments, and in December BURNCO requested that the environmental review be put on hold until they can respond. The 180-day review period was originally scheduled to end on Jan. 28, but is presently on a ‘time-out.’
Winn’s concerns were added to staff’s recommendations, which will be sent to the BC Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) and BURNCO.
The SCRD passed a motion in October saying that they do not support the BURNCO proposal “as presented at this time.”