CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story stated that the proposed area for the quarry is in an area of land zoned ‘agricultural.’ In fact this area of land is partially located on agricultural land reserve and partially located on land zoned as ‘resource management,’ which allows for operations such as mining.
Intermittent drilling, blasting, extracting and crushing could be the new norm for a property between Agassiz and Harrison.
Development companies partnered under the name TC Merritt Valley Farms are making an application to the provincial government to build a quarry near Hot Springs Road where activities would include blasting sand and gravel and other “quarry operations.”
The operations would take place between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. from Monday to Friday –with an end date listed as Dec. 31, 2030, based on an initial planned start date of sometime in 2017.
The application said the site is located 430 metres from the nearest public road and “has not many homes around it since it is located on agricultural land surrounded by large parcels of land.”
The shortest distance to the nearest home and residential water source is 270 metres.
“The site is a raised terrace well above the highway and housed to the east. Crushing equipment will not be heard from the highway, and blasting will be limited as per demand. Once or twice a week,” reads the application.
It also mentions plans to plant trees along the property line to minimize “visual impacts.”
The application estimates that 120,000 tonnes a year will be extracted from the seven-hectare area located up a hillside between the two municipalities.
The decision is ultimately up to the province, but the Village of Harrison has expressed concerns about the proposed operations and informed The Observer that it has sent a letter to the province requesting a public hearing.
Harrison resident Michie Vidal has reservations too. She recalled living near a mining operation in Lake Errock, and said dust and noise were an ongoing issue.
“My experience dealing with the aggregate site in Lake Errock is … they will blast anytime they choose to,” she said. “There could also be additional traffic.”
The application does detail measures to minimize dust impacts such as a layer of gravel on the service road that will be kept wet over the summer.
As far as implications for groundwater, the average depth to the high groundwater table at the proposed excavation area is 95 metres – and no fuel or explosives would be stored on site.
The application also states that no First Nation groups have been consulted on the proposed project.
Many locals have indicated to The Observer that they are not only opposed to this operation, but are mobilizing to stop it.
A “notice of work” ad placed in the April 5 edition of The Observer states that anyone affected by or interested in more information on the application has 30 days to express concerns to the chief inspector of mines from the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources c/o Southwest Region.