The Regional District of Central Okanagan (RDCO) will not be supporting a proposed rock quarry off Highway 33.
The RDCO is one of the referral agencies for Westridge Rock Venture’s proposed aggregate quarry in Joe Rich, along with Fortis BC and the Ministry of Transportation, both of which raised concerns about the operation.
Area residents, as well as the Black Mountain Irrigation District (BMID), have also raised concerns with regards to the location of the quarry and the effects of its operations on its surroundings.
BMID administrator Bob Hrasko said their main concern with the quarry’s location is that it sits above silt bluffs. With quarry operations, the bluffs could collapse, block off Mission Creek, and be detrimental to the water supply.
Hrasko said the irrigation district has recommended an alternate site for Westridge’s gravel pit.
“We would like to see a pit but perhaps somewhere else,” he said in a previous interview with Black Press Media.
Shawn Blennerhassett is a Joe Rich resident and he said the proposed site borders his acreage. He said he has concerns about potential noise, traffic, and other consequences crushing and blasting rocks can bring.
So when the RDCO did not lend its support to the project, he said it was a big surprise.
“The district’s default position, as recommended by staff, was to accept the proposal, subject to conditions including an environmental study,” he said.
“But now, to see them take a different position and not recommend it, then that’s significant.”
While this is good news for Blennerhassett, he hopes the Ministry of Mines will consider the RDCO’s decision, given that it has the final say on whether the project can move forward or not.
“I hope the province takes into consideration that the regional district is not supporting it and possibly looking at the reasons why, including lack of proper zoning in its location in this residential area, safety and nuisance implications that go with it,” he said.
The Ministry of Mines said it has received feedback from residents and is considering their concerns.
“The issues identified in the feedback will be taken into consideration by the statutory decision maker both when making the decision and, if a permit is granted, when drafting the permit conditions,” the ministry said in a statement.
Hrasko has said having a quarry is still important and that he hopes Westridge will consider another location instead of nixing the project.