A delegation from Burnco Rock Products received a polite but cool reception from SCRD directors at the Feb. 22 meeting of the corporate and administrative services committee.
Derek Holmes, land and resource manager for Burnco gave a presentation addressing concerns raised by the SCRD in submissions to the provincial and federal environmental reviews of Burnco’s proposed gravel mine at McNab Creek.
“I’d like to start by saying that it has become obvious throughout the review that as an industry, to be honest, we have done a poor job of promoting ourselves and educating people on the use of gravel,” said Holmes. “The fact that it’s required for all construction is not well understood.”
Holmes spoke about the importance of gravel, and the level of regulation of the industry, and said that the environmental reviews of the project were collaborative, transparent, thorough, professional, and scientific.
“The conclusions were that the project would have no adverse environmental impact, no nuisance affects to residents nearby or recreation, and [would be] good for the local economy and jobs here on the Sunshine Coast,” said Holmes. He also noted that the project was supported by the Squamish Nation.
However, Area F Director Ian Winn was not impressed by the environmental process and reiterated concerns he heard from his constituents. He concluded: “There were thousands of comments and thousands of letters that were provided to provincial and federal agencies and the number of people that I’ve heard from that are in support of the project are very few, probably less than ten.”
Keith Julius, representing the Sechelt Indian Government District, injected a cautionary note from his own experience with the Lehigh gravel mine in Sechelt.
“When they first came into the Sechelt area, I recall them coming before us and sitting there just like you are and basically… promising us all these things, and how they were going to go about protecting the environment,” said Julius. Julius voted against the project and then ended up working at the mine for eleven years. In that time, he said he saw many environmental problems, such as oil leaks, and found that complaints about problems were never acted on.
Area B Director Garry Nohr ended the discussion on a positive note. “I didn’t want you to walk away feeling beat up here,” he said, noting that when he was investigating the project, he phoned the mayors of two Alberta communities that had dealings with Burnco, and received positive reviews.
“I would suggest to you that you made a mistake by not bringing them out here and letting them talk to the communities here,” said Nohr. “It might have been worthwhile because… people don’t seem to believe scientists all the time, and they don’t seem to believe any representative from a company.”
The McNab proposal includes a sand and gravel pit, processing plant, and barge loading facility about 10 km northeast of Port Mellon. If the mine is approved by the provincial and federal governments, a rezoning application will go to the SCRD.