Enough complaints have been received that the ministry of energy and mines will hold a community meeting over a proposed rock quarry in Spallumcheen.
Ministry inspector Tom Charles, from Kamloops, was among the 40 people gathered at Spallumcheen council chambers Monday for a presentation on the quarry from proponent Bruce Schartner,
Charles had already received 12 letters against Schartner’s application, and picked up two more before speaking to the crowd Monday.
“We received Bruce’s application in November and I sent it back a couple of times because I’m among the really picky inspectors in the office,” said Charles.
“My forté is mine planning. I did not like the plan at the beginning so sent it back and got it to the point where I was comfortable with the plan.”
Charles said the review was then sent out for a one-month referral period to the forest and environmental ministries, along with First Nations groups.
The Township of Spallumcheen, however, was overlooked in the original referral stage.
“After that period, we always get complaints,” said Charles. “Our policy is any more than six, then we’ll hold a community meeting. That will happen in this case.”
No date, time or location for the meeting has been set.
Schartner told the crowd he and his wife, Mavis, purchased the property on Back Enderby Road in August 2013 with the intent to operate a quarry on the land which backs onto Crown land.
The Schartners, who currently operate another such operation in the North Okanagan, and have done so for the past five or six years, pointed out the Spallumcheen property is zoned large holdings, which allows for resource use including the extraction and crushing of rock.
“We have been in the excavating and gravel business since 1981, and now we have finally found and purchased suitable and appropriately zoned property to base quarry operations,” said Schartner.
After placing an ad in a North Okanagan newspaper advertising his plan, as per ministry requirements, Schartner and Charles began to receive complaints from nearby neighbours, concerned about noise and dust.
“We are working under the direction and supervision of the ministry of mines and energy, and are in full accordance with their directives,” said Schartner.
He told the crowd he would operate his quarry Monday to Friday, with the rare Saturday, and never on Sunday. Hours of operation would likely be 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. or 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
“We are projecting rock crushing operations on an average of five days per month,” said Schartner. “Operations would mostly be seasonal.”
Blasting, he said would happen once or twice a year, controlled by certified blasters. The noise would be controlled by use of a tree buffer zone and earth berm, along with the general maintenance of the equipment.
Dust would be controlled by use of water on the property, coming from a small spring, and traffic, said Schartner, “would not substantially increase.”
The quarry he has operated the last five years, he said, averages 4.4 loads per day over a nine-month season.
Among those residents opposed is Gordon Palmer.
“We know that a quarry operation will impact the land values in this area, but even more importantly the quality of life in our community and the local environment,” Palmer told Charles and the crowd.
Spallumcheen Mayor Janice Brown said council is in a tough position because it has no control over the permitting of mines.
“We have all of our residents that pay for the roads, and that live in that community, they already have a vested interest in Spallumcheen,” she said to Charles.
“We understand you have control to make sure this is a good business. From the crowd, we need to be sure it won’t change their quality of life.”