By David F. Rooney
Angered by dust and noise from the Interoute gravel pit off Westside Road, scores of people have signed a petition urging “our leaders to act now to stop the Westside gravel pit expansion.”
Property owners have been complaining vigorously to the City about the pit in question, particularly since its amended mining plans allows an expansion to 120 acres from five. However, while municipal officials sympathize with their objections, there is nothing the City can do.
“There have been a lot of complaints about this,” Bylaw Enforcement Officer Tim Luini said Thursday. “But there’s not a lot we can do. Take the Noise Bylaw and read it carefully. You’ll find that if the amount of noise being generated is normal for an operation there’s not a lot we can do.”
So if machinery at a gravel pit normally generate a hideous roar as it crushes rock, well, that’s the way it goes.
In fact, there’s nothing the City can do about the gravel mine operated by Interoute Construction Ltd.
“This all comes under the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources,” Mayor David Raven said in an interview earlier this week. “It’s hard to believe but gravel is a valuable commodity now. It’s like gold.”
That may well be so but it doesn’t cut any ice with Stuart Andrews, the local resident who started the petition. From his home on the slope of Mount
Revelstoke, he can look out his west-facing window and see the creeping scar that is the Interoute Construction Ltd.
“This really is not acceptable but I’m at my wits end,” he said in an interview.
“I understand from the operators of the pit, that this gravel pit along with its proposed further expansion will be operating for the next 20 years so it will be ongoing for my lifetime. A proposal to build a golf course on the same area as the gravel pit was turned down by the City as one of their concerns was that it is a animal sensitive area, yet a gravel pit is somehow okay?”
Andrews also noted that the pit is scheduled for expansion through five phases that will see it balloon to 120 acres. The area has previously been identified as “new growth” area for the city under the Official Community Plan and it falls within the Wellhead Protection Area for the well that was established at the golf course for the City. Andrews wonders whether the dust generated by rock crushing at the pit, dust that regularly coats his vehicles and deck — as well those of his neighbours and friends — constitutes a contaminant.
Andrews’ friend Jim Block says the noise and dust from the pit will depress property values.
“I’ve got my place up for sale,” he said. “Well, good luck to me!
“Look I don’t mind someone taking a five-acre area, mining it and then cleaning it up. But 120 acres?”
Andrews is planning on appearing before City Council this coming Tuesday to present them with his petition, which had 88 signatures at the beginning of this past week, most of them from people in Columbia Park who have been through this before when H&J operated a small pit off Westside Road. In addition to the Interoute pit, the City has its own gravel pit and Jack McKinnon is apparently operating one further away up the Jordan.
People who object to the pit should also complain in writing to the Chief Inspector of Mines, Ministry of Energy and Mines, Southeast region, Second Floor 42-8th Avenue South, Cranbrook, BC, V1C 1J4. Please quote mine file number 1620313.
As to whether he’ll actually receive satisfaction, well Andrews isn’t optimistic. In the past few weeks he has filed Freedom of Information requests and spoken with provincial government officials and does feel as though he has made any progress. If anything, he he feels stymied.
But he’s persevering.
“Diane and I cleared the land and built this house with our own hands 15 years ago,” he said. “You don’t give up on that.”