Chris Cathers and other residents in the Nanaimo River Road area are concerned with a gravel pit operation from Hub City Paving and Lafarge Canada. (KARL YU/News Bulletin)

Chris Cathers and other residents in the Nanaimo River Road area are concerned with a gravel pit operation from Hub City Paving and Lafarge Canada. (KARL YU/News Bulletin)

Residents south of Nanaimo concerned about gravel pit in their neighbourhood

Amended Mines Act permit issued on July 5 for Nanaimo River Road site

Rural area residents near Nanaimo are dead set against a mining operation slated to start up in their community.

According to the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, an application to amend a 1991 Mines Act permit for a site at 1975 Nanaimo River Road was submitted by Hub City Paving, a division of Lafarge Canada, in April 2018 with an amended permit issued July 5. However, the site is near Nanaimo River, bordering Boulder Creek, said Chris Cathers, an area resident and member of a grassroots group voicing opposition.

The property is zoned by the Regional District of Nanaimo for resource extraction, but Cathers said the designation was granted when the area was sparsely populated. The area has undergone development, with people still building homes and sub-dividing. His group started an online petition citing numerous concerns, he said.

A traffic study was conducted based on data recorded near Hub City’s main mine and Cathers predicts an increase of gravel trucks using the road. It is a concern, he said, as the road is known to be used by cyclists, motorcyclists, recreational enthusiasts and school children boarding buses.

“There’s no sidewalks. The roads are really in disarray, there are a lot of potholes and they’re not in good shape, so adding that many trucks on those roads, running through a residential community, is a serious hazard,” said Cathers.

There could be an increase of crystalline silica, a known carcinogen, worries Cathers. The area is windy and it could be carried a far distance. Cathers also pointed to the site’s proximity to fish-bearing streams and creeks, which could cause environmental problems.

Such operations require rock crushers and that could create noise pollution and affect quality of life, according to Jeanette Pongratz-Doyle, an area resident.

“No. 1, the sound, the constant shaking of the ground, which includes wells and water concerns,” said Pongratz-Doyle. “We have a lot of farms out there, so they are concerned about their animals and their quality of life.”

In an e-mail, the ministry said a public engagement process began March 19, with a public information meeting May 23. Snuneymuxw First Nation was also consulted. The amended permit authorizes “aggregate production of up to 100,000 tonnes per year,” it said.

Jim Dunkley, senior inspector of mines, acted as a independent statutory decision maker and attended the public meeting where “some opposition to the permit was voiced.” Major concerns centred on noise and trucks traffic, the ministry said.

Lafarge has been ordered to conduct a noise study upon start of crushing activities to address issues that may arise, said the ministry, and other conditions are that work is only permissible from Monday to Friday between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Crushing will be allowed on a periodic basis, there will be a 30-metre buffer on Boulder Creek and excavations are to remain two metres above high groundwater. The ministry said traffic on Nanaimo River Road doesn’t fall under its jurisdiction.

Pongratz-Doyle feels the RDN is not offering support, but the RDN says it is not the approving body. Maureen Young, RDN director for the area where the mine is situated, said she sees both sides. Gravel is needed for roads and building homes, but she was born in the area and remembers swimming in the rivers when she was growing up.

“I would prefer that the Boulder Creek pit site was not permitted for gravel extraction and crushing, but that it could be left in its natural state,” Young said.

Cathers said residents plan to form a South Forks-Nanaimo River community association to represent their interests. He said the group is disappointed the permit was granted and plans to bring its concerns to the RDN and has met with both Doug Routley, Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA, and Paul Manly, Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP.

As of Aug. 9, 760 people have signed the online petition.

Hub City Paving did not respond to requests for comment by publication time.



reporter@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow Karl on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Emergency crews used a backhoe loader to clear fire debris from the scene of a fire on Wesley Street Thursday as police and firefighters gathered up propane tanks, stoves and fireplaces used by camp residents to heat tents. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
UPDATE: City dismantling Wesley Street homeless encampment after fire

Fire broke out at about 12:15 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 3

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools’ staff and trustees held their annual general board meeting Dec. 2 via Microsoft Teams. (SD68 image)
Nanaimo Ladysmith school district chairperson retains role, new vice-chair chosen

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools held annual general meeting Wednesday

(Black Press file)
RDN strengthens security after being alerted to publicly accessible property ownership information

Regional District of Nanaimo investigates, reports to privacy commissioner after anonymous e-mails

Steve Metcalfe, Quality Foods Harewood store manager, holds a poinsettia and a Coins for Kids donation jar, two symbols of Christmas spirit. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin
Coins for Kids collects for Christmas causes in Nanaimo

News Bulletin fundraising for Great Nanaimo Toy Drive, Boys and Girls Clubs

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

A 53-unit building to be built at 6010 Hammond Bay Rd. (City of Nanaimo image)
Province announces support for 50 units of affordable housing on Hammond Bay Road

Building B.C. Community Housing Fund partners with Nanaimo Affordable Housing Society

The driver of a car that crashed in downtown Nanaimo Tuesday is facing multiple charges. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
RCMP recommending impaired driving charge after crash into lamp post in downtown Nanaimo

Driver sped away after ‘heated argument’ in another part of downtown, say RCMP

Beef to the business at the mall that told me I had to provide personal information for COVID tracing. After assuring me I would not receive marketing e-mails, they proceeded to send me e-mails promoting their business.
Beefs & Bouquets, Dec. 2

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail editor@nanaimobulletin.com

A company with a lab in Nanaimo has federal government approval to manage research intended to standardize extraction of a psychedelic compound, psilocybin, from magic mushrooms. (Wikipedia Commons photo)
Experts favour use of magic mushroom derivatives for research into mental health treatment

Educators, researchers see value in studying psilocybin’s effect treating mental health and addiction

Nanaimo City Hall. (News Bulletin file photo)
City of Nanaimo’s financial plan includes $314 million for projects

Potential property tax increase now at 3.0 per cent, budget meetings continuing

A demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver Sept. 24, demanding more action on the Cohen Commission recommendations to protect wild Fraser River sockeye. (Quinn Bender photo)
First Nations renew call to revoke salmon farm licences

Leadership council implores use of precautionary principle in Discovery Islands

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

(Pixabay)
Canadians’ mental health has deteriorated with the second wave, study finds

Increased substance use one of the ways people are coping

Most Read