The provincial government and the Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) inked a deal this week that all hope will put an end to so-called “conflict gravel” operations in the area.
After more than a decade, the Ministry of Energy and Mines reports there is now greater clarity for residents and industry around where and how commercial gravel operation are allowed to operate.
“About 13 or 14 years ago, then MLA and now mayor of Mission Randy Hawes set out to resolve the friction that often occurred between commercial gravel operators and local governments in the Fraser Valley,” said Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett in a statement issued Tuesday. “Now, as a result of a great deal of hard work by Mayor Hawes, local government and industry, the FVRD has a bylaw in place that achieves a reasonable balance and ensures a long-term supply of aggregate in the region.”
Bennett and FVRD Chair Sharon Gaetz signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) Tuesday pertaining to the FVRD’s new Commercial Gravel Operations Bylaw (bylaw). The MOU outlines how both levels of government will work together to further harmonize permitting processes and strengthen co-operation in compliance and enforcement of commercial gravel operations in the FVRD.
“We are so grateful to Minister Bennett and the Province for levelling the playing field, providing a workable solution that will be good for the community and for industry,” Gaetz said.
Chilliwack-Hope MLA Laurie Throness said the MOU will provide security for residents and industry by mapping “red” areas where no aggregate operations can be sited, “yellow” were they are allowed but subject to restrictions and “green” where they are allowed with no restrictions.
“This is a great day for the Fraser Valley,” he told the Times via email. “Our economy needs inexpensive gravel, and this bylaw ensures that plenty of it will be available, but it also makes sure that gravel operations are not sited in places that are onerous for nearby residents. I think it’s a win-win situation.”