Sparks fly before public hearing on gravel bylaw starts

Residents opposed to a bylaw mapping out future gravel pit locations in the Fraser Valley take to the Internet as public hearing announced.

Sparks are already flying as a bylaw to regulate gravel mining in the Fraser Valley Regional District goes to public hearing next week.

But there will not be a vote to adopt the bylaw at the June 26 meeting, which will go back to FVRD directors and staff for further work that could take the rest of the year to complete.

“The newly developed bylaw will protect our region’s most sensitive areas and ensure that any gravel removal is carried out in the most sustainable and environmentally sound manner that has our public’s best interest in mind,” FVRD chair Sharon Gaetz said in a news release announcing the Chilliwack meeting.

But Walter Neufeld, president of the FVRD Citizens Association, said unless the FVRD “moves rapidly to introduce measures for accountability, inclusion and transparency, it seems probable that impacted residents … will take the gloves off.”

He charged that FVRD directors are “being used as corporate whips to clear the way for corporate profit at the expense of ordinary citizens, their rights and the environment which sustains us all.”

Even before Gaetz’s release, residents opposed to the Aggregate Pilot Project – which proposes a tri-colour mapping scheme where future gravel pits may be allowed – were scrapping with MLA Randy Hawes by email.

Hawes is a former FVRD chair and Minister of State for Mining who started APP negotiations back in 2004 with the gravel industry, the FVRD and the B.C. government.

But those negotiations took place behind closed doors, with no public input, a fact that continues to irritate residents and raise allegations of collusion.

Lake Errock resident Tony Rees sent an email last week urging FVRD residents to attend the Chilliwack meeting and protect the region’s water resources, which he believes are endangered by gravel mining.

“This plan was devised behind closed doors with no impacted Fraser Valley residents involved, and not surprisingly it does not address community concerns, such as noise, air and water pollution, traffic problems, the dismal record of regulation compliance of operators, lowering of property values of residents, and the irreversible destruction of water resources,” he said.

Lake Errock resident Reg Longmore accused Hawes in another email of political “double-speak” and “hiding the true facts” about the APP.

“You have yet to give a satisfactory answer as to why the public were never allowed to participate in ‘behind closed door meetings’ that the aggregate industry were so obviously guiding,” Longmore wrote.

But Hawes shot back that Longmore was “fear mongering,” when the APP will only increase the “scrutiny” of gravel pit operations.

“The APP does not decrease the scrutiny that now takes place by the Ministry of Environment, DFO, and others and the same standards are to be met whether there is an APP or not,” Hawes wrote. “I fail to understand why you persist in spreading these falsehoods.”

He said the APP is about planning future gravel operations, and gives local governments “much more say” in permit conditions over removal operation like noise and dust control.

But to date there has been no government remedy proposed, local or provincial, to the operations of existing gravel mines that lie behind much of the public anger.

FVRD directors have said publicly in the past that the gravel industry would not negotiate, if public representatives were included in the talks. The courts have to date favoured the gravel industry in court cases launched by the FVRD.

Just Posted

LETTER: Why is Jati Sidhu ashamed of his riding?

Lytton’s Christopher di Armani shares his dismay at the potential name change of the MP’s riding

Fraser-Cascade School Board votes to invest in protecting the future of its students’ hearing

Decibel monitors to be installed in secondary schools’ machine shops as a visual guide

Kent-Harrison Foundation celebrates 25 years

The foundation started in 1994 on the promise of a two-for-one donation deal

Bucket-list flight for Chilliwack grandmother

Hampton House resident treated to a beautiful plane ride in Moments that Matter

Lagoon improvements, but no safety audit recommendations, coming to Harrison

The lagoon will see electrical upgrades, a new flag pole and fencing, but no life jackets or signs

Harrison Hot Springs students bring ‘Twelfth Night’ to life

The adaption of Shakespeare’s classic comedy include songs and phrases from Canada’s east coast

1,300 cruise ship passengers rescued by helicopter amid storm off Norway’s coast

Rescue teams with helicopters and boats were sent to evacuate the cruise ship under extremely difficult circumstances

Province announces $18.6 million for B.C. Search and Rescue

The funding, spread over three years, to pay for operations, equipment, and training

Vancouver-bound transit bus involved in fatal crash near Seattle

One man was killed and a woman injured in crash with bus purchased by TransLink

Late-season wave of the flu makes its round in B.C.

BC Centre for Disease Control reported 50 per cent jump in flu cases in first weeks of March

Tofino’s housing crisis causing some to seek shelter at the local hospital

Tofino’s housing crisis is pushing the town’s ‘hidden homeless’ population into the forefront.

Sentencing judge in Broncos crash calls for carnage on highways to end

Judge Inez Cardinal sentenced Jaskirat Singh Sidhu to eight years

Most Read