Burnco’s proposal for a gravel pit at McNab Creek was back on the agenda at the Sunshine Coast Regional District on May 26 after more than a year’s hiatus.
Burnco Rock Products has proposed a sand and gravel pit, processing plant, and barge loading facility about 10 km northeast of Port Mellon to provide material for their concrete plants in Vancouver. Their initial “pre-application” process with the BC Environmental Assessment Office was approved at the end of 2014, and the company has since been conducting environmental studies to support their full application.
An SCRD staff report presented to the Corporate and Administrative Services committee outlined a number of SCRD concerns including potential loss of fisheries habitat, diminished air quality, noise, and potential impact on tourism and recreation.
Area F Director Ian Winn emphasized the noise issue. “I went up to McNab Creek on Monday and it’s a perfect amphitheatre. It would bring a whole new definition of ‘rock concert’,” he said.
Area A Director Frank Mauro concurred. “We have a large gravel pit in the Egmont area and one of the recurring issues there is noise.”
Winn also stressed that public meetings on the application must be held in both Gibsons and West Vancouver to allow for adequate public consultation.
Ruth Simons of the Future of Howe Sound Society says: “McNab valley is a very vulnerable place.” Her group has opposed the Burnco proposal since it first surfaced in 2010. She noted that although McNab Creek lies outside the Area F Official Community Plan, the SCRD has control of zoning for gravel processing.
“Some of this hinges on the SCRD board making their minds up whether this is the right place to have heavy industry,” said Simons.
The Burnco proposal is being reviewed by a working group of the BC Environmental Assessment Office, which includes representatives from the SCRD and the Islands Trust. When the application is considered complete, it will move into a new phase which includes public consultation.
The McNab Creek property was a Canfor log dump until the late 1990’s and has been the subject of several failed industrial proposals. In 1997, a liquid LNG storage facility was proposed and rejected, and then a sand and gravel pit was also turned down. In 2006, Canadian National Investments (CNI) proposed a deep sea container port and gravel pit, but plans were never completed.