The Highlands has made it clear they do not want a rock quarry off Millstream Road, but OK Industries Ltd. seems determined to add additional business to their property.
OK Industries has side-stepped the district and applied through the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources to add the quarry to their site.
The area for the proposed quarry is beside land owned by the Capital Regional District and the province, and the Tervita waste disposal site. This is a concern for Scott Richardson, Chair of the Highlands District Community Association (HDCA), as his community is dependent on groundwater from the Highlands aquifer that lies partially beneath the waste disposal site.
HDCA wrote a letter to the Union of B.C. Municipalities in protest to OK Industries new venture, but that was the most the group has been able to do. With the vital importance of the water supply to the community and little opportunity for discussion with the Ministry, he wonders if the way such cases are adjudicated is antiquated.
“Somebody has to stand up for our groundwater because our people depend on it,” he said. “Does mining legislation really meet the current needs and expectations of the public for community engagements for projects like this that will have such a long-lasting impact on the environment?”
Digging a rock quarry involves removing everything that is living on the surface and blasting down tens of metres, which, given the size of the area could last for decades, Richardson said. There is a subdivision right across the street that would be affected if this decision is passed.
OK Industries made their application and presentation to the Ministry, the Highlands also made a presentation and met with the Minister and are now waiting on a ruling.
Highlands Mayor Ken Williams said both parties are waiting for the statutory process to run it’s course, but is unsure how long it will be before a decision is made.
“Council has responded to the referral from the B.C government last year and the Highlands said it was not in favor, the statutory authority lies with the province,” he said.
In 2016 the Highlands council considered a rezoning application from OK Industries Ltd. that would have seen the site turned into an industrial park with some agricultural use. This rezoning was subsequently denied.