EDITORIAL: Middle ground must be found

Gravel extraction is an economic necessity while public concerns must be addressed

Conflict between entrepreneurial spirit, government goals and public aspirations are nothing new.

And that’s certainly the case with Regional District of North Okanagan’s attempt to control gravel extraction after significant opposition to a gravel pit arose in the BX.

As the elected officials closest to the people, it made complete sense for RDNO directors to take some form of action.

Directors, though, have come up against the all-powerful Ministry of Energy and Mines. It has determined that RDNO’s proposed soil removal and deposit bylaw would be too restrictive towards aggregate mining when there’s a need for such a product locally.

And the ministry makes a good point as accessing gravel is critically important to residential and commercial development and as the economy improves, demand for the resource will climb. RDNO should not be allowed to block the industry altogether.

However, the ministry appears to be too focused on the positive components of gravel extraction and not the potential negatives, such as noise, dust, traffic and the environment.

As an example, RDNO is being urged to draft a new bylaw in conjunction with the ministry and gravel producers. A key stakeholder wasn’t invited to the table in the ministry letter and that’s the public.

A balance is needed that allows businesses to make a living, the economy and tax base to flourish and legitimate neighbourhood concerns to be addressed.

For that to happen, that means all parties, and particularly the regional district and the Ministry of Energy and Mines, need to back off firmly-entrenched positions and find some middle ground.