By David F. Rooney
The controversial Westside Gravel Pit’s tenure is kaput and the North Columbia Environmental Society is urging City Council to oppose its renewal.
What Council will do is almost anyone’s guess, but councillors did — despite broad opposition to the pit — approve the pit when it began operations in 2010.
“The NCES feels that renewal of Interoute’s tenure would jeopardize the City’s long-term vision and goal for the subject property as well as the reclamation requirements set out in Interoute’s mining permit,” NCES President Sarah Newton and Director Jody Lownds said in a letter sent to City Council on Friday, June 14.
“These concerns are in addition to the NCES’s ongoing concerns regarding the health hazards and environmental dangers posed by the gravel pits emissions of silica dust, a Class 1 carcinogen. Environmental standards for gravel pits are not stringent enough nor well enough enforced to protect our citizens or the natural environment. These concerns are even more pressing since an application was made in February 2013 for a new gravel pit near Westside Road just outside of the Revelstoke city limits.”
Many local residents opposed the gravel pit from the get-go because of concerns about health hazards and fears that the pit, located just 350 metres across the river from Columbia Park, would affect property values.
How Council will react is anyone’s guess. Back in 2010 Councillors spent a lot of time going through intellectual contortions trying to find a way to say actually supported the pit without actually saying that.
For its part, Interoute held a public meeting in 2010 to explain its operations and assure residents that they would install proper dust-control measures and would also reseed the 17.2 hectare pit with native grasses. However, they admitted they would not fill in the six metre-deep pits left behind by the gravel-extraction process,
So what will Council do now?
This is the time for people — whether they are members of the NCES or not — to ensure that Council really knows what they think. Council’s next sitting is on Tuesday, June 25, at 3 pm.
Perhaps it’s time for a real public demo about an issue of local importance…