Local man Karl Dopf is one of many who have voiced concerns about a quarry application for a hillside between Agassiz and Harrison. The area itself would be located up a rock hill side, 270 metres away from the closest home and the nearest residential water source.

LETTER: Stop the quarry

Local brings his concerns to the table

With respect to the public notice filed in the Observer on April 5, 2018, I, as concerned citizen am filing my objections to this proposed new quarry operation for construction aggregate at 3628 Hot Springs Rd.

Health

The start-up and continued mining operation on the hillside could create a substantial amount of silica dust from the blasting and the transfer of rocks by heavy trucks to the on-site processing plant which by itself, will create more dust as the rocks are ground up into the aggregate. The prevailing winds up and down the valley corridor could deposit this dust in the town of Agassiz the Resort Community of Harrison Hot Springs and surrounding agricultural lands.

In addition, the noise pollution from blasting, mining operation and on site processing plant will be heard by the local residents living in the communities of Harrison Hot Springs and Agassiz. Noise causes stress, which is a proven health risk factor and root cause in many mental and physical illnesses.

My concerns are for the dust, noise and water pollution all of which are health hazard for people, livestock, agricultural crops, and wildlife.

Safety

The creation of this gravel quarry requires the removal of considerable amount of overlay and trees on the mountain side –to be followed by continuing blasting, which could result in geotechnical instability. The increased water runoff could change existing water courses that contribute to flooding of low lands.

Hot Springs Road /Highway 9, is heavily trafficked – some hundreds of thousands of visitors travel this scenic tourism route to Harrison Hot Springs and the Provincial Park annually. In fact, it is the only road in and out of Harrison Hot Springs which poses its own problems in the event of an emergency such as forest fire, natural disaster or major accident.

Traffic congestion, increased pollution (from truck exhaust fumes) does not meet these two municipalities objective of reducing their carbon footprint.

The increased truck traffic loaded with tons of aggregate in addition to the logging trucks that already use this highway poses substantial increased risk to the safety of the traveling public and bicyclists, not to mention the added dust, pollution and noise which are detrimental to human, wildlife and livestock health.

Environment

Natural beautiful B.C. is in juxtaposition to what is being proposed here, an ugly scar on the beautiful forested hill side near Highway 9 leading to the “naturally refreshing” resort community of Harrison Hot Springs and to the provincial parks.

The destruction of natural habitat, devastation of the wildlife, some of which is endangered, pollution of wells and ruination of salmon stream, potential of mud/ rock land slide, floods in the area, dust filled atmosphere, noise pollution, all contribute to worsening of carbon footprint, that is not in keeping with the two communities Official Community Plans (OCPs).

The current pile of dirt, rocks, cement pieces, lumber and demolished building waste is just the beginning of the ugly degradation of this once beautiful piece of agricultural land.

Projects of this kind once depleted leave major scar on the environment and the restoration of these lands to some form of natural state, be it farm land or reforestation is costly enterprise. So what type of ongoing monetary payment will be made by the mine owners and operators over the next decade to take care of these restoration costs?

Economics

Harrison Hot Springs and Agassiz both have seen substantial increase in new residential construction over the past several years as both communities appeal to young families, retirees and people who have summer cottages and residences. They and existing residents will not be pleased by this development and the negative impact this quarry will have on their quality of life.

Therefore, the construction of this quarry gravel mine two kilometers from scenic Harrison Hot Springs is out of character for the area. There is a quarry behind the penitentiary several kilometres to the west – but it is largely out of sight to tourist traffic and is not near a residential corridor.

While the District of Kent’s OCP makes provision for the development of “sand and gravel deposits” it has not met its own policy in respect to the guidelines under ‘general industrial policies’ which require the District of Kent/Agassiz to ensure that this type of industrial/mining development is compatible with residential, and agricultural land use.

It also requires the District to consider the implications and benefits of such developments. With respect to the latter, I question what impact studies have been conducted with respect to impacts this quarry will have on the health of nearby citizens, agricultural livestock, environment, safety and the damage to the tourist economy?

This major departure from the OCP should have been subject to special council meeting open to the public for both communities and the First Nations in the area, as this quarry mine has the potential to negatively impact economically all of these constituents. It will also destroy Harrison’s brand as a major “hot springs tourism destination” and specifically for “eco-and agricultural –tourism” which are becoming increasingly popular.

This blight on the country side, its negative impact on the environment, health and safety of the travelling public will have an economic trickle-down effect and will hurt many more businesses besides the agricultural and tourism sector.

Lack of consultation and transparency

The District of Kent/Agassiz has not consulted or called for public meetings on this project with its neighbour, the resort community of Harrison Hot Springs, its own citizens, or local First Nations.

Until the owners and developers of this quarry undertake and table independent third party impact studies from qualified professionals that address the impacts this quarry will have on the health, safety, environment and economies in the region, and the proper due diligence is completed and reviewed to the satisfaction of all affected parties, and their findings presented at public hearings, this quarry mine and processing plant must be stopped.

The permit for the mining application must be strongly opposed by all the citizenry, business groups and farmers that will be affected and an immediate ‘stop work order’ should be issued by the appropriate authorities.

-Karl P Dopf – Harrison Hot Springs

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