By David F. Rooney
Spurred on by angry residents led by Stuart Andrews, City Council voted unanimously to ask that all work at Interoute’s Westside gravel pit, which is slated to balloon from five acres to 120 acres, be suspended until Council has been fully informed of what is going on.
It was apparent from the look on their faces that Councillors had no official idea of what was going on at the pit just off Westside Road.
An exclusive story in The Current last week (click here to read it) revealed that the pit was slated to be expanded through five phases to 120 acres. Interoute’s mining plan, while filed with the provincial government, had never been sent to Revelstoke City Council for comment. However, it seems some municipal staff may have been aware of the plan. Chief Administrative Officer Ross McPhee indicated during the meeting that staff had seen the plan but had not regarded it as an item worthy of Council’s direct attention.
Well, it certainly has Council’s attention now.
Andrews, speaking to Councillors on Tuesday as almost a dozen supporters watched from the gallery, said that starting on March 15 Interoute “has scalped the land and trees” with bulldozers even though a 30-day period for public comment on its mining plan hadn’t even begun. He said the mining plan claims that there are no residential areas within three kilometres of the gravel pit “which is absolutely false.” The nearest homes are just 300 metres away from the site across the Columbia River and are in the direct path of wind-blown grit and diesel fumes that pose a significant respiratory hazard for people in the area.
The frosting on all of this is the fact that the City’s own Official Community Plan identifies the area in question as a future growth area for the community, as an active animal-migration area crisscrossed by corridors and as part of the Wellhead Protection Area for the municipal well on the golf course.
Andrews, who can clearly see the scarred landscape from his living room on the lower slope of Mount Revelstoke above Highway 23N, has for weeks been trying to contact people at Interoute, the Integrated Land Management Bureau, the Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources and other agencies.
“I’ve been blocked every step of the way,” he said. “I am being stalled and they are going ahead bulldozing trees.”
“It’s clear that Council doesn’t know about this,” said Councillor Steve Bender.
But they soon will.
Council directed City staff to seek a stop-work order for the expansion of the pit. It also asked staff to investigate the licencing process and Andrews’ specific complaints.