By David F. Rooney
Opponents of the proliferation of gravel pits in the city are getting ready for a possible dust-up with City Council over the latest application for a new pit on Westside Road.
“I am asking that the City Council NOT give approval for the City Corporate Officer to issue a Development Permit for a gravel pit at 274 & 322 Westside road File # 3060-20, DP 2015-09,” anti-pit crusader Stuart Andrews said in an e-mail to Council on Monday, August 10.
“Reasons: The crystalline silica dust (is) a Class 1 carcinogen which will come from the crushing of silica gravel from the gravel pit. It is a major health concern. The City has the power under both the Public Health Act and the Community Charter to act when something threatens human health.”
In his e-mail, Andrews included sections of the Act and the Charter that, he said, underscore the City’s power to act on behalf of its citizenry.
Dust from gravel pits can be dangerous to human health. Please click here to read about the toxic witch’s brew in gravel pit dust.
Andrews is by no means the only person concerned about the adverse effects of gravel pit dust. Columbia Park residents George and Saralene Hopkins are very anxious about this development and oppose it just as they did the 2010 permit for the Interoute pit on Westside Road.
“Saralene has severe asthma and emphysema and we truly believe the dust from the mine (operated since 2010 by Interoute) has made her health much worse,” George said in an e-mail to Council. “When it isn’t snowing or raining, dust from the mine accumulates on our sundeck sufficiently every single day to the point that it has to be hosed off before we can spend any time there. Trying to keep it swept off doesn’t work. The visible dust is so fine that it just blows around and settles back again. Then there is the microscopic dust we can’t see. We rarely even let our dog out onto the deck or into the yard. We have no doubt that this same type of dust from the mine gets into our home. We cannot keep our home clean inside. So, what is it going to be like when another dust emitting gravel pit goes into operation near us?”
The Hopkins are not just worried about their health; they’re angry about what they perceive as the uncaring attitude of previous Councils for whose help and support they had repeatedly begged.
“I must tell you that we are still very, very angry that our health concerns regarding the gravel pit have been totally ignored or greatly downplayed from the very start by certain people,” George said. “When I was openly objecting to having the gravel pit there, some people even chose to intimidate and harass me to get me to shut up. One fellow has refused since then to be seen in public with me. Fighting this has not been easy for us even though we have had the constant support of a wonderful individual. We thank him very much.”
The other aspect that distresses Andrews is the impact having yet another gravel pit developed across the river is having on the value of his home on the lower slope of Mount Revelstoke off Highway 23N. He listed his house for sale earlier this year but delisted it after potential purchasers immediately lost interest when told that the noise they could hear and the dust they could see across the river was from a gravel pit.
The previous two Councils had mo objection to gravel pits. They made that abundantly clear. It remains to be seen what this Council will — or won’t — do about this issue. One thing is certain, though, if the people of Revelstoke do not want to see more pits gouged out of the forests near our city they need to speak up. Now.
Revelstoke Sand & Gravel is proposing a sand and gravel mine and processing plant on provincially owned land at 274 and 322 Westside Road.
According to a report to be presented to Council by Development Services Manager Dean Strachan on Tuesday, August 11, it could receive a development permit if it meets the following conditions:
- The applicant is to have a registered professional biologist prepare a report on the subject property identifying any streams, water courses or other features requiring permitting and/or reporting to federal and/or provincial agencies; and
- The site plan and biologist report are to be included with the Development Permit as Schedule A.
The property is designated as Urban Reserve and is zoned RR60 – Rural Residential, 60 Hectare District.
The last gravel pit to open here — the 120-acre Westside Gravel Pit owned by Interoute — did so in 2010 and was vocally opposed by many people, in particular those living in Columbia Park directly across the river from it.
Please click here to read the report by Development Services Manager Dean Strachan.
You can find several stories about the Westside pit on The Current website by entering the search term “gravel pit” in the search field on the right-hand side of the front page.