Two gravel pits unearth concern as residents, director call for public meetings
By Timothy Schafer, The Nelson Daily
A regional district director is preparing “to go to the mattresses” as he gathers public ammunition in the fight for information on two proposed gravel pits for the Slocan Valley.
Area H Regional District of Central Kootenay director Walter Popoff is not the Godfather but he has epitomized two gravel pits — one for Slocan Park, the other near Lemon Creek — as unsuitable for the valley unless the proponents offer up more information in two public meetings on the enterprises.
The residents have sent him emails of concern and he has forwarded the emails on to the Ministry of Natural Resource Operations (Mines) in Cranbrook for the first sand and gravel pit, located 10.5 kilometres north of Winlaw (60 km. north of Nelson).
“I was recommending non approval of the application until all the issues and concerns were addressed by the applicant,” Popoff said.
On Thursday he sent a further email to the ministry asking they conduct a public information meeting in the community hall on the South Lemon Pit, after the fact the public comment period on the pit closed March 9.
“That (meeting) would be to provide the community the information regarding this application and what the applicant does to address the concerns,” Popoff added.
Those concerns are silica dust the gravel trucks would kick up on a daily basis, hours of operation (noise) and access road safety with several children in the area.
There are also water systems in the vicinity of the pit, said Popoff, and people want to know what impact the operation will have on that.
As well, the road in the gravel pit raises the question of a potential landslide as it sits on a slope above the homes in the area.
“Until we have that information meeting, we’ll see then if they are valid concerns and how the proponent intends to address them,” Popoff said.
In Slocan Park the gravel pit is situated on private land at the end of Hart Road, comprising about eight hectares. The gravel pit would affect the 35 homes on Storbo Road as well as homes across the river down to Cunningham Road and Slocan Park.
However, there is a floodplain regulation bylaw in place for the area and the proposed gravel pit footprint area covers part of the floodplain identified within that bylaw.
Within that bylaw it is requested that a geo-scientific study be done before any development is allowed in that imprint.
Popoff said there is a waterwell on that property providing water to approximately 19 community members. A hydrological study has been done and Popoff has requested it twice now from the ministry but has not yet received the study.
There is also a creek nearby with water users on that creek and a water pipeline going right through the proposed gravel pit that concerns some residents, Popoff explained.
On March 17 the comment period ends for municipal government — the public one ended March 9 — and he will be again forwarding those emails of concern to the ministry in Cranbrook asking them to address all of the concerns and the issues.
“We want a public meeting there as well,” he said.
A petition was also circulated requesting a public information meeting.
The proposed start date for the Slocan Park gravel pit is April and the proposed finish date is in 20 years, according to the application. The total minable reserves over the lifetime of the site is 390,000 cubic metres.
The operation will include excavation, crushing and mechanical screening of an estimated 19,500 cubic metres of material per year, six days per week, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., except on holidays.
It will be in operation from mid March to November.