Hundreds of Agassiz, Harrison residents gather to oppose quarry application

Hundreds of Agassiz, Harrison residents gather to oppose quarry application

Memorial Hall packed with concerned locals

Facing a packed room of concerned faces, one Harrison resident stood at a microphone in the Memorial Hall Tuesday night.

“I’d like to know how it got to this point. How do we only have six days left?” he asked, baffled. “Six days is not enough time, we have a whole Village here.”

Someone quickly responded from the crowd, “we can do it!” and the hall erupted in applause.

Six days – until April 23 – is the amount of time Agassiz and Harrison residents have to oppose quarry operations proposed for a rocky hillside between the two municipalities.

A notice of work application was sent to the provincial government in August, 2017, seeking approval for a construction aggregate quarry on a rocky hillside 430 metres off of Hot Springs Road. But the public wasn’t officially notified until March 23, and given 30 days to send comments and concerns to the province.

And residents have certainly taken that to task. Facebook posts about the quarry application drew so much heat that a committee was formed, and a Facebook group created for news specific to the issue. Within a matter of days a meeting had been organized, and the original venue had to be changed as more and more residents decided to attend.

READ: Application sent to province for quarry operations between Agassiz and Harrison

At least 200 locals filed into the hall Tuesday, filling every seat until some were left standing. Harrison resident Michie Vidal, one of the key organizers, took the stage to outline some main concerns around impacts on the environment, public health and the economy.

The proposed quarry – located 270 metres from the closest residence and 1.25 kilometres from the Village of Harrison entrance – would be the site of year-round blasting, crushing, sorting and mechanical screening, extracting an estimated 120,000 tonnes of mineable reserves per year.

Harrison council has taken an unreserved, defiant stance to the quarry, and mayor Leo Facio took the stage to read the letter he sent to the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources.

The sound of blasting would “completely change the character of this quiet agricultural neighbourhood,” he read. “In addition we can expect a steep increase in industrial traffic to and from the site along with associated noise, dust and debris.”

Facio said that a quarry in that location undermines the province’s shoulder widening project for Highway 7 and 9 – designed specifically to attract cyclists and pedestrians.

“Permitting an aggregate mine in this location with all the…heavy equipment traffic, is in direct conflict with that objective,” he said.

“As far as I, as a mayor, and my council are concerned, this is a very serious issue for the Village of Harrison Hot Springs…It’s very rewarding when people in our communities get together to bring initiatives to head and try to do something about it…we’re fully behind you.”

Tourism Harrison executive director and Harrison Agassiz Chamber of Commerce president Robert Reyerse shared his concerns with the group too.

“There’s quite a few reasons, from a tourism perspective, that we are against this project as strongly as we can be,” he said. “This is…a horrifying project. It’s going to have an impact. It’s hard to know just what that impact will be. But what we do know, instead of seeing sort of a pastoral agricultural scene, you’re going to see this mountain scarred. You’re going to be in Harrison on the beach, listening to explosions.”

Reyerse told the crowd that the Chamber of Commerce directors voted unanimously in favour of standing against the project.

“The business of Harrison is tourism, the business of Agassiz is farming and this project is bad for both,” he said.

Levels of government

While applicant, TC Merritt Valley Farms, has made a formal application to the Ministry of Mines ETC., the quarry operations won’t start until approvals are granted from various other government bodies such as the Ministry of Transportation and the Agricultural Land Commission. As it stands, the proposed location is partially composed of land zoned as ‘resource management’ by the District of Kent, but a massive portion –about seven hectares– is in the agricultural land reserve.

Still, the land sits within District of Kent boundaries, and the municipality has not, or according to mayor John Van Laerhoven, cannot, indicate any sort of stance on the project.

“The District has to allow the senior governments to make their decision in matters that they have control over,” he told The Observer. “The District is not in the position to make decisions on mining operations.”

“The District has to be open minded and objective.”

For now, Van Laerhoven said his council is focused on monitoring the application process.

Petitions

After some speakers and a brief question period, attendees lined up to sign petitions to be sent to the province.

Petitions state that the application should be denied for reasons including: increased traffic, safety and health concerns and environmental impacts.

The Ministry of Energy and Mines told The Observer that it cannot confirm a timeline for approval, as a statutory decision maker is in charge of reviewing the application and decisions from other ministries.

Kent Quarry

Just Posted

Dancers from the Sts’ailes First Nation perform the eagle dance at a welcome banner dedication ceremony on Thursday, June 10. “Ey Swayel” is a Halq̓eméylem term translated as ‘a good day.’ (Adam Louis/Observer)
VIDEO: ‘A good day’ for Agassiz school as Sts’ailes welcome banner is dedicated

Banner hangs above the school’s entrance, welcoming students, staff and visitors

UFV athletes were honoured for their strength and perseverance during the pandemic. (UFV photo)
Fraser Valley athletes recognized in year without sports

UFV Cascades athletes honoured for strength shown during the pandemic

Missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs was found deceased on Thursday evening (June 17).
Body of missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs found

Hobbs was reported missing Monday after leaving his job site in Langley

A tenant walks in front of her home on Boundary Road on Friday, June 18, 2021 after it was destroyed by fire the night before in Chilliwack. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Chilliwack family homeless after fire rips through house on Abbotsford border

Turtle rescued, no one seriously hurt following Boundary Road fire in Chilliwack

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

A search is underway for a 75-year-old fisherman who went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search continues for angler missing between Port Angeles and Victoria

Canadian, U.S. Coast Guard searching for 75-year-old man reported missing Thursday evening

Most Read