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

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Search called off for small plane that went down in rough water south of Victoria

Plane bound for Port Angeles from Alaska believed to have one occupant, an Alaskan pilot

Royal B.C. Museum conservator Megan Doxsey-Whitfield kneels next to a carved stone pillar believed to have significance as a First Nations cultural marker by local Indigenous people. The pillar was discovered on the beach at Dallas Road last summer. Museum curatorial staff have been working with Songhees and Esquimalt Nation representatives to gain a clearer picture of its use. (Photo courtesy Royal BC Museum)
Stone carving found on Victoria beach confirmed as Indigenous ritual pillar

Discussion underway with the Esquimalt and Songhees about suitable final home for the artifact

The Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre will once again be transformed into temporary sheltering for 45 individuals starting in March. (Courtesy of the B.C. Government)
Temporary shelter to resume at Victoria Save-On-Foods arena in March

BC Housing signed lease with GSL Group from Feb. 1 to May 30

A property at 1224 Richardson St. in Victoria is the subject of a rezoning application that seeks permission to build three low-rise buildings with 24 units, including four that would rent for below market rate. (Google Streetview)
Victoria development in Fairfield features subsidized housing element

Public hearings this Thursday (Jan. 28) for proposals on Richardson Street and Heywood Avenue

Leila Bui with her parents Tuan (left) and Kairry Nguyen on Jan. 27, 2020 after Tenessa Nikirk was found guilty for striking Bui in a Saanich crosswalk. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Driver convicted of dangerous driving after hitting Leila Bui out on bail

Tennesa Nikirk was convicted for striking then 11-year-old Leila Bui with her car

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Jan. 26

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(B.C. government photo)
POLL: Would you like to see restrictions on travel to B.C. from other provinces?

With a host of more virulent strains of COVID-19 appearing across the… Continue reading

Former Vancouver Giants forward Evander Kane is seen here in Game 7 of the second round of the 2009 WHL playoffs against the Spokane Chiefs (Sam Chan under Wikipedia Commons licence)
Gambling debts revealed in details of bankruptcy filing by hockey star Evander Kane

Sharks left winger and former Vancouver Giants player owes close to $30 million total

Othman “Adam” Hamdan, pictured in front of Christina Lake’s Welcome Centre, was acquitted of terrorism related charges in 2017. He has been living in Christina Lake since November 2020. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Man acquitted on terrorism charges awaits deportation trial while living in Kootenays

Othman Ayed Hamdan said he wants to lead a normal life while he works on his upcoming book

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 prior to being sworn in by The Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, November 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Premier Horgan calls jumping COVID vaccine queue ‘un-Canadian’

Horgan says most people in B.C. are doing their best to follow current public health guidelines

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, and Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart share a laugh while speaking to the media before sitting down for a meeting at City Hall, in Vancouver, on Friday August 30, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Vancouver mayor, Health Canada to formally discuss drug decriminalization

Kennedy Stewart says he’s encouraged by the federal health minister’s commitment to work with the city

Downtown Fernie is pictured after a snowfall.
B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at B.C. legislature on the province’s mass vaccination plan for COVID-19, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
COVID-19 quarantine not an option for B.C., John Horgan says

Apres-ski parties increase risk, not interprovincial travel

Most Read