Does Revelstoke REALLY need a 120-acre gravel pit? I think not

David F. Rooney

Does Revelstoke really need a 120-acre gravel pit off Westside Road? I think not. Sure, it might make paving and building a little cheaper in the short run — after all, we have $70 million in new construction underway, as Mayor David Raven has said — but in the long run I think this project is going to be damaging.

First off, there is the whole question of flat, developable land. How much do we really have in Revelstoke? Not so much that we should permit a company to pock-mark some of the best available land along the river with six-metre-deep pit mines.

Secondly, who’s going to rehabilitate 120 acres worth of giant holes? Sure. The company’s plan claims it will do that but isn’t some of our landscape already gouged with holes and pits? What happened to the rehab for those? And what will happen if the gravel pit owners go out of business? Who’s going to do it then? And what are they going to rehabilitate those great big holes with? Garbage? More dirt and rock taken from somewhere else? My fear is that when all is said and done we’re going end up with pits that will never be rehabilitated.

Thirdly, there is the human question. What matters more? The comfort, health and quality of life of the men, women and children who live here? Or the convenience for and profitability of a large company that really doesn’t care about Revelstoke and its people. When the pits are done and the gravel’s gone they will be, too. Meanwhile, we’ll be stuck with the consequences.

Personally, I think our Mayor and City Councillors should do everything in their power to oppose this industrial development. It doesn’t matter to me if Interoute has a permit to cut the trees (which apparently was granted them before they were granted a mining permit), and it sure irritates the heck out of me that the province could well see fit to grant them a permit to strip mine the land in our community without a real public discussion.

And finally, there is the health cost. Much has been said about “dust” blowing through and onto Columbia Park. When we’re talking dust here we’re not talking about household dust. We are, according to information gathered by pit-opponent George Hopkins, talking about crystalline silica which has very well known health consequences. Click here to read Part 1 and Part 2 of a document he put together regarding this substance.

These are, of course, simply my opinions and, as some will doubtless think, talk — particularly mine — is cheap. That’s fine., Everyone is entitled to an opinion, me included.

Hopefully, though we’ll hear a lot of local opinions tonight (Monday, June 7) when the Columbia Park Neighbourhood Committee holds a public meeting from 7 pm until 8:30 pm at the Community Centre. If this gravel pit project bothers you as much as it does me, I hope I’ll see you there.

In the meantime here are some aerial photos of the mine that show its relationship to the rest of the community. Monday morning I went up in an Arrow Helicopters machine piloted by Phil Davies with gravel pit opponents Peter Bernacki and Stuart Andrews, City Councillor Antoinette Halberstadt and RCTV camerawoman Shawn Fllipchuk. Photos from that flight are posted below. You’ll also find a video on The Current shortly and, below the photos, a postscript containing a letter to MLA Norm Macdonald’s staff regarding the mine as well as a document that outlines an attempt in the Okanagan to better manage gravel pits.

Now for the photos:

RCTV camerawoman Shawn Filipchuk videotapes Interoute Construction's Westside Road Gravel Pit from the air during a aerial helicopter tour of the site with me, Peter Bernacki, Stuart Andrews and City Councillor Antoinette Halberstadt. David F. Rooney photo
This image gives you a sense of the initial scale of the proposed mine, which is much closer to Columbia Park than many people realize. David F. Rooney photo
It's worth remembering that the area you see stripped of trees and ready for mining is just the start of a 120-acre open pit mine. David F. Rooney photo
Yet another shot of the proposed mine in relation to the rest of the city. David F. Rooney photo
This area has been tagged as appropriate for "future growth" in Revelstoke's Official Community Plan. But is an open-pit gravel mine the kind of "growth" we want? David F. Rooney photo
Interoute's application says it sill reclaim the deep pits that will be all that remains when it is done strip-mining the area. This shot shows an old gravel pit right next door. As you can see it is a wasteland. Is that what we want? David F. Rooney photo
This may be a relatively well-run mining operation, but there is so little flat and developable land here that giving 120 acres of it to a grain mining operation seems like an enormous waste. David F. Rooney photo
This image shows the golf course in relation to the mine. The course management is unhappy with the proposed gravel mine and the dust and noise it will create. David F. Rooney photo

Post Script

An e-mail from Minister of State for Mines Rick Hawes to Leslie Adams, MLA Norm Macdonald’s constituency assistant in Golden:

Dear Ms. Adams:

Thank you for your email of May 17, 2010 following up on my email to you of the same date regarding the proposed sand and gravel pit by Interoute Construction Ltd. in the Revelstoke area.  I am also responding to your emails of May 19 and 26, 2010 on the same issue, addressed to Mr. Jake Jacobs, Public Affairs Officer, Public Affairs Bureau.

Regarding the approval process for the proposal, the application is reviewed by the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources (Ministry) in accordance with the Mines Act and the Health, Safety and Reclamation Code for Mines in British Columbia.  A determination is made on who may be affected by the project and the application is then provided to the appropriate agencies to solicit comments and concerns with respect to the proposal.  Inaccuracies incorporated into an application are corrected and this information is provided to those parties who may have had their reviews affected by the corrected information.

Issues raised are addressed either by the proponent through changes in the proposed project or through permit conditions placed on the permit by the Mines Inspector.  This referral process includes provision for public input through advertising and, if the project has many public concerns, the Mines Inspector may also direct the proponent to conduct a public meeting.  Once the referral process is complete (nominally 30 days depending on issues), a determination is made whether to issue a Mines Act permit.

At this time, a permit decision has not been made.  A public meeting is scheduled to take place on June 7, 2010 in Revelstoke and a Mines Inspector will be in attendance.

There will not be an Environmental Assessment (EA) of this application.  An EA is conducted if a project meets certain thresholds.  Please refer to the EA Office website at to review project applicability.

I have been advised by the Ministry’s Cranbrook Regional Office that your constituent, Mr. Andrews, has spoken with representatives of that office and that they have verbally responded to his questions.  In addition, your constituent’s concerns related to alleged offsite activities have been addressed with him.  Contraventions of the Mines Act are addressed by the Ministry’s Inspectors of Mines.

Inspection reports can be provided to interested parties if a formal request is made to the appropriate regional office.

Mr. Ricci Berdusco, Regional Director, Southeast Regional Office, Mining and Minerals Division, in Cranbrook, will contact you in the near future to further discuss this matter.  In the meantime, Mr. Berdusco can be reached at 250-426-1252 or

Thank you, again, for writing.


Original Signed By

Randy Hawes
Minister of State for Mining


An e-mail from pit opponent Stuart Andrews advised me this evening that the meeting format looks like this:

  1. Short Presentation by Interoute;
  2. May be (not decided yet) a short presentation by the City Staff;
  3. Question & Answer period; and
  4. Interoute will have information boards/tables and their staff will be available to answer questions one-on-one.

Andrews said his research has also led him to this interesting document:

Proposal for Urban Mining Guideline Zones

For the Central Okanagan

Version 1.9 August 20, 2007

“A mine plan should be flexible, technically competent, business smart and respectful of the

community and the environment.t” Aggregate Operators BMP Handbook for B.C.,2002, pg. 30.

The lack of appropriate regulation and lack of municipal input into the approval process for aggregate mining has

resulted in escalating conflict between the aggregate industry and impacted Okanagan residential neighborhoods.

Far from the cliché charge of NIMBY-ism, these neighborhoods are not adequately protected by B.C.’s antiquated

1872 Mines Act and Bill 54 (2002)24,25,26. The B.C. Mines act allows developers to sidestep the

environmental/development bylaws that direct land development in the Central Okanagan.

The coalition of Okanagan groups against urban mining in residential areas generated this proposal in answer to

requests from the Honorable MLA’s, Rick Thorpe and Al Horning. These zones are based on a review of the

Fraser Valley Aggregate Pilot Project, RDCO Aggregate Supply and Demand Study, Aggregate Operators BMP

Handbook for B.C., B.C. Mines Act, gravel pit regulation in North American jurisdictions, lawsuit outcomes and

haul route criteria.1-22

We would further propose that:

gravel reserves be established to conserve this valuable resource in otherwise undeveloped areas.

• An appropriate portion of the profits (e.g. $0.06 – 0.07/ton1,14,15 ) be set aside for staged, sustainable

reclamation/remediation in payments to regional governments in addition to a bond large enough to

discourage “walking out” on a failed pit

• Gravel pit operators with good environmental/community track records receive expedited treatment on

future applications


Heather Larratt Bobbi Kirkwood John Templeton Grant Lawrence Peter Pazdernik

Westside Peachland Oyama Carr’s Landing Kelowna

Rick Davidson

Okanagan Centre

V 1.9

For the Yellow and Green Zones, the permit decision process needs to be jointly approved by Ministry of Mines

and the local municipal authority.

Mine Inspectors and regional inspectors should monitor and publicly report mining and/or reclamation progress on

a minimum of an annual basis or as triggered by complaints.

Proposed Urban Mining Zones for the Central Okanagan

Red Zone – Environmental or residential protection zone – no mining if:

• the proposed pit or processing area is within 500 m of the nearest residence OR

• sections of the proposed pit/processing area or haul route have been identified as Environmentally

Sensitive Area ESA 110 or parkland or ecological reserve2,5,7 OR

• the proposed pit area is in a groundwater recharge zone/groundwater protection zone10, 20 OR

• a significant, documented health risk is posed by: dust, compromised water supply, contaminants, trucking

hazards or noise disturbance23 OR

• the proposed pit footprint is in the ALR and would reduce agricultural potential OR

• the viewscape is permanently damaged by pit or stockpiles or can be viewed from an urban center or

Okanagan mainstem lake (Okanagan, Kalamalka, Wood, Duck) OR

• haul route is unsuitable (type C low volume roads or less)4

Yellow Zone – Mining possible with significant restrictions if

• exploration of the mining site is subject to the same standards, including reclamation, as an active pit.

• the proposed pit/ is within 1000 m of the nearest residence

• the proposed pit/processing area or haul route has been identified as ESA210

• the proposed pit area is within 30m8,10,13,20 of surface or groundwater features

• storm water from the disturbed area and haul route can be managed by infrastructure18,23

• health risk posed by: dust, storm water drainage, contaminants, trucking hazards or noise disturbance can

be managed through restrictions and infrastructure 20,23

• impact to the viewscape from the pit or stockpiles is minimal or the impact can be remediated according to

a staged, sustainable plan

• the haul route will bear limited hauling (type B medium volume roads) 4 and be <10% grade and conform

to Health Safety and Reclamation Code section 6-8 specifications 19

• no screening, crushing, or cement plant is possible without industrial zoning

• Extension of the mining permit by more than 3-4 months or expansion of the disturbed area by more than

35%21 (cumulative during the life of the pit permit) would trigger a re-application with public input. This

includes existing aggregate extraction permits17,18

Green Zone – Responsible mining is acceptable if

• exploration of the mining site is subject to the same standards, including reclamation, as an active pit.

• the proposed pit/processing area is more than 1000 m of the nearest residence and in an area zoned for

industrial use AND

• the proposed pit area/haul route has been identified as ESA310or less and storm water can be effectively

managed AND

• the proposed pit/processing area is not within 30m8,10,13,23 of surface or groundwater features AND

• health risk is unlikely via dust, compromised water supply, trucking hazards, contaminants or noise

disturbance 21,22 AND

• the haul route is type B, C, or an unpaved, designated industrial route4 AND

• plans for staged, sustainable reclamation are annually inspected and successfully completed

• Extension of the mining permit by more than 3-4 months or expansion of the disturbed area by more than

35% 21(cumulative during the life of the pit permit) would trigger a re-application with public input.

V 1.9

This proposal would not replace existing bylaws and would mesh with Official Community Plans and provide a

basis for establishing Development Permit Areas


1. Aggregate Mining in B.C. – A Fractured Situation October 2002

2. British Columbia Mining Plan, January 2005 “Parks, ecological reserves and other sensitive areas are protected

Mining is not allowed in these areas… Action Item 48 Expand a successful aggregate pilot project model and

implementation guidelines province-wide.”

3. Central Okanagan Growth Management Strategy Aggregate Supply and Demand Study RDCO, District of Lake

Country, District of Peachland and City of Kelowna, June 16, 2000.

4. Pavement Design Standards Technical Circular T-9/95 Geotechnical and Materials Engineering Branch, July

10, 1995. Ministry of B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Highways.

5. Ecological Reserves Act (1979) – concerned with preservation of endangered species

6. Endangered Wildlife Act

7. Environment Canada Species at Risk Act Bill C-5 – A Guide 2001

8. Drinking Water Protection Act, B.C.

9. Greater Vancouver Sewerage and Drainage District Liquid Waste Management Plan Storm Water Plan 1999

10. Central Okanagan Municipalities and Regional District: ESA Environmentally Sensitive Areas 1,2,3

definitions and designation as Development Permit Areas; Groundwater Protection Zones

11. RDCO: Environmental Protection Discussion Paper, January 2002

12. BC Environment: Groundwater Resources of British Columbia, 1994

13. B.C. Riparian Areas Regulation – Fish Protection Act

14. Government of Ontario Aggregate Resources Act, 1990-1993

15. D.J. Beeby California Department of Conservation, Successful Integration of Aggregate Data in Land-Use

Planning: A California Case Study. 1996.

16. Fraser Valley Aggregate Pilot Project

17. Reclamation And Environmental Protection Handbook For Sand, Gravel And Quarry Operations In British

Columbia available from MOT

18 Aggregate Operators BMP Handbook for B.C.,Vol 1 Apr 2002

V 1.9

19. Health, Safety and Reclamation Code Section 6-8 for Health & Safety Code for


20. B.C. Water Act

21. Environmental Assessment Act for Renewable Projects: Reviews projects with production capacity over

500,000 tons per year or 1 mil tones in less than 4 years or an increase of 35% of the production. This in under the

Minister of Sustainable Resource Management

22. Waste Management Act

23. “Reclamation and Environmental Protection Handbook for Sand, Gravel and Quarry Operation in BC” 1995,

by Ministry of Energy Mines & Petroleum Resources, and Ministry of Transportation

24. “Undermining our Future: How Mining’s Privileged Access to Land Harms People and the Environment”

Karen Campbell, West Coast Environmental Law, 2004,

25. “Bill 54 Deregulation Backgrounder” West Coast Environmental Law, 2002,

26. B.C. Mines Act, Bill 54 amendments to the Mines Act

27. “Managing Aggregate, Cornerstone of the Economy” – Report of the Aggregate Advisory Council, 2001.