The rezoning application for the proposed Burnco gravel mine at McNab Creek has been delayed until next month, and opponents continue to pile the pressure on the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) to deny the Alberta company's bid.
In an Oct. 11 letter to the board, Lions Bay Mayor Brenda Broughton "respectfully requests" the board refuse Burnco's application and keep the land's rural zoning until there is a plan "to preserve and protect Howe Sound for future generations."
The Future of Howe Sound Society made a similar request to the board last month and is coordinating a petition and media campaign against the Burnco mine proposal.
"I think some directors just want to see it go away," said SCRD board chair Garry Nohr. "Others say it's obvious that (Burnco) hasn't done enough consultation with the public at this point."
Nohr said a resort community consisting of about 13 homes lies next to the site, and owners have become "pretty anti-Burnco" since the gravel mine was first proposed.
A letter from McNab Strata chairperson Troy Speedie confirmed the group's opposition to the rezoning.
In general, Nohr said, feedback on the proposal has been consistently negative.
"I don't see any e-mails saying 'I would like to see this happen.' I think Burnco has quite a bit of work to do in the community," he said.
In a report to the planning and development committee presented Oct. 18, planner Teresa Fortin said the regional district had received only a partial application from Burnco up to that time. The full rezoning application was later filed and a staff report will be presented to the committee on Nov. 15.
At the Oct. 18 meeting, Gibsons director Lee Ann Johnson said Burnco officials, during a late-summer tour of the site, had stressed the high level of industrial activity that is occurring in the McNab Valley.
"They were talking about that and [saying] that it was surprising to see the concerns about the valley being in its natural state. Their take was, it's been totally disturbed historically for a very long period of time," Johnson said.
"That fact is not argued," said Lee Turnbull, director for West Howe Sound. "Everyone is aware that has been an industrial area, but for certain purposes. Those purposes have been on the surface. They have been logging and it isn't an issue, never has been an issue with logging, log booming, log barging," Turnbull said. "It's when you start digging up the estuary and make minimizing statements about that assuming there's no value."
In her Oct. 11 letter to the board, Broughton warns the Burnco mine would kill jobs on the Sunshine Coast by damaging the tourism industry.
Howe Sound has become a prime asset for the Vancouver film industry, serving as a backdrop for commercials and the series Real Housewives of Vancouver, "whose 'fill' is often the beauty of Howe Sound," Broughton wrote.
"This region, as we have agreed, is to be treated with special care," she wrote.
In her letter, Broughton reminded the board that the SCRD had signed a Howe Sound principles of cooperation document in 2002, along with 13 other municipalities and Squamish First Nation, and said the Burnco proposal does not conform to the agreement.
Meanwhile, Burnco has submitted its application information requirement - the project's terms of reference -to the province's environmental assessment office, which expects the document "will be ready for discussion" by January 2013, Fortin said.
© Coast Reporter