O.K. Industries is looking to build a quarry next to Capital Regional District land, of which the aquifer sits underneath. This map was taken from the 2015 report for the rezoning application. (Photo courtesy District of Highlands)

O.K. Industries is looking to build a quarry next to Capital Regional District land, of which the aquifer sits underneath. This map was taken from the 2015 report for the rezoning application. (Photo courtesy District of Highlands)

O.K. Industries asks to engage with Highlands community over contentious quarry project

Highlands District Community Association seeks to appeal quarry permit

A company that plans to operate a quarry in the District of Highlands says it wants to “meaningfully” engage with residents after a local community association brought a petition against the quarry to court.

On June 8, the Highlands District Community Association (HDCA) submitted a petition to the Supreme Court of B.C. against the province’s decision to grant a permit for a rock quarry to O.K. Industries Ltd. The petition is between the HDCA and the province’s Attorney General; the minister of mines, energy and petroleum resources; Donald Harrison, delegate of the chief inspector of mines and O.K. Industries Ltd.

“I’m not surprised they have filed this petition,” said Mel Sangha, corporate adviser and former general manager of O.K. Industries. “They’ve been very vocal throughout this all but it’s the same thing they’ve been arguing.”

The quarry would be near the Millstream Road entrance to the District of Highlands, called the “gateway lands.” It was proposed in 2016 and at the time, more than 1,000 residents signed a petition against the proposal. The 65-acre property was purchased by O.K. Industries from the province in 2015 and was granted a Mines Act permit in March of this year. The District of Highlands denied the company’s rezoning application to use the land for industrial purposes in 2016.

READ ALSO: Highlands Community Association petitions province’s approval of rock quarry

Concerns from the HDCA include impacts on the subsurface aquifer and drinking water, noise and dust from the project, road safety hazards from increased traffic, possible negative impacts to quality of life and house prices and impacts on biodiversity.

“Based on what I’ve read it looks like the issues that have been raised by the HDCA are the same ones submitted to the Ministry of Mines, Energy and Petroleum Resources when we applied for the permit,” Sangha said. “Those issues were communicated to us by the ministry, reviewed and responded to.”

Sangha said the company hired third party consultants to evaluate the community association’s concerns and provide recommendations on how to operate the quarry. The reports were submitted to the ministry which evaluated the company’s responses with their own staff and issued the permit to O.K. Industries Ltd. Sangha believes the permit was issued because the company’s plan met ministry requirements and addressed issues raised by community members.

Rather than building a big hole in the ground, Sangha said the plan is to dig to a final elevation of 95 metres above sea level, or about two metres above the elevation of Millstream Road at the southwest corner of the property. Sangha said they hope to create a level piece of land that can be repurposed to comply with the District’s official community plan once the rock has been mined.

“If we dug a big hole, it would eliminate future use,” Sangha said. “And because we’re not going deep the blasting design that we have says we will not damage the aquifer.”

There is also a stormwater management plan that involves water quality testing to ensure there are no contaminants in the water.

READ ALSO: UPDATED: Province permits proposed gravel quarry in Highlands

According to HDCA board chair Scott Richardson, an unclear process and guidelines for public input into the project also hampered the community association from giving adequate input on the project. Richardson said they were denied due process and that public interest considerations haven’t been addressed properly by the province.

Sangha said the document used by the ministry to permit the quarry was made available to the HDCA and District of Highlands. He said O.K. Industries also conducted an open house with consultants, community members and a representative from the ministry.

“[The HDCA] know what we committed to do and what we’re obligated to do to address concerns they and other stakeholders had,” Sangha said, noting the final decision on the quarry lies with the province. “All I can say is based on what we submitted, they issued a permit so I interpret that as them saying what we proposed was good.”

Before the petition was filed, Sangha said the company already planned on re-engaging with the community to have “meaningful, genuine conversations” about the lands and how they’ll be used in the future. He said they’re still wanting to work with the local community.

“The current petition is a little adversarial,” Sangha said. “Hopefully all sides can move beyond it in a reasonable way.”

shalu.mehta@blackpress.ca


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

District of Highlands

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Metchosin ecologist Andy MacKinnon is raising alarm bells for arbutus trees, as many are falling victim to a fungus called leaf blights. The leaves and branches of the trees are turning brown or black and then dropping off, eventually killing them. (Dawn Gibson/News Staff)
Vancouver Island arbutus trees fighting for survival against parasites

Many trees weakened, turning black or brown and dying, says local ecologist

Applied theatre researcher Dennis Gupa wearing a traditional Filipino malong at a local beach in Victoria. (Credit: John Threlfall)
UVic researcher uses theatre to empower marginalized voices, fight climate change

Dennis Gupa looks to create new modes of expression, knowledge sharing

Sooke resident Lesa Cro started up a new pet waste removal business. Cro goes to yards in the region, removes all of the waste and then composts it, so that it doesn’t go into landfills. (Dawn Gibson/News Staff)
New pet poop-scooping business picks up in Sooke

Poop No More service taking the ‘dirty work’ out of lawn cleaning

Rachna Singh, MLA for Surrey-Green Timbers, is the Parliamentary Secretary for Anti-Racism Initiatives. (Photo courtesy of flickr.com/photos/bcgovphotos)
Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Russ Ball (left) and some of the team show off the specimen after they were able to remove it Friday. Photo supplied
Courtenay fossil hunter finds ancient turtle on local river

The specimen will now make its home at the Royal BC Museum

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

B.C. homeowners are being urged to take steps to prepare for the possibility of a flood by moving equipment and other assets to higher ground. (J.R. Rardon)
‘Entire province faces risk’: B.C. citizens urged to prepare for above-average spring flooding

Larger-than-normal melting snowpack poses a threat to the province as warmer weather touches down

Vancouver-based Doubleview Gold Corp. is developing claims in an area north of Telegraph Creek that occupies an important place in Tahltan oral histories, said Chad Norman Day, president of the Tahltan Central Government. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)
B.C. Indigenous nation opposes mineral exploration in culturally sensitive area

There’s “no way” the Tahltan would ever support a mine there, says Chad Norman Day, president of its central government

Stz’uminus Elder George Harris, Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone, and Stz’uminus Chief Roxanne Harris opened the ceremony. (Cole Schisler photo)
Symbolic red dresses rehung along B.C. highway after vandals tore them down

Leaders from Stz’uminus First Nation and the Town of Ladysmith hung new dresses on Sat. April 17

A Western toadlet crosses the centre line of Elk View Road in Chilliwack on Aug. 26, 2010. A tunnel underneath the road has since been installed to help them migrate cross the road. Saturday, April 24 is Save the Frogs Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress File)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 18 to 24

Save the Frogs Day, Love Your Thighs Day and Scream Day are all coming up this week

Most Read