Skip to content

Gravel pit proposed in watershed

A proposed gravel pit near the Sunshine Coast Regional District's water intake on Chapman Creek has regional directors fuming in frustration.

A proposed gravel pit near the Sunshine Coast Regional District's water intake on Chapman Creek has regional directors fuming in frustration.

In an advertisement, the SCRD board said the water source for over 21,000 citizens "is under assault" by logging and proposed mining on private land.

AJB Investments has applied to the Ministry of Energy and Mines to dig for sand and gravel on a 15-hectare site southeast of Chapman Creek, opposite the SCRD's water intake. In its application, the company said it plans to access the new mine via the Sechelt Airport Forest Service Road at the top of Field Road.

At an SCRD planning meeting July 15, directors voted unanimously to "strongly object" to the gravel mine application.

"Sechelt will have a great desert. It will impact on the watershed," said Bernie Mulligan, director for West Howe Sound.

John Marian, director for Halfmoon Bay, commented, "We [the SCRD] have a legal responsibility to provide community water" but not the legal authority to protect the watershed.

Sechelt councillor Ed Steeves expressed concern about gravel trucks travelling on Field Road.

Barry Janyk, mayor of Gibsons, questioned who will be legally liable for any impact on the Sunshine Coast's drinking water from the mine.

The SCRD first raised concerns about logging on this private property in March. Early in 2004 Canadian Forest Products sold the property, together with other Sunshine Coast forest land totalling about 880 hectares, to AJB Investments Ltd., a division of Sure Span, a West Vancouver-based bridge-building company.

Since March the SCRD has been attempting to negotiate a deal with AJB to stop the watershed logging by finding an alternate place for the company to log. So far there is no such deal, and the logging continues sporadically.

The SCRD has repeatedly stated its opposition to logging and mining in the watershed but has no authority to stop those activities.In a report to the mining ministry, AJB suggested moving the logging road closer to the creek in order to make the gravel pit larger.

"In order to maximize gravel resource extraction it is planned to seek approval from the Ministry of Forests to move this road closer to the crest of the Chapman Creek valley while still maintaining a minimum five-metre wide buffer from the valley crest to the north edge of the road," said AJB's report to the ministry. "It is not expected that runoff will be a problem as the proposed pit area is covered with a thick layer of gravel. All surface and subsurface runoff from the quarry will flow into the pit and exfiltrate through the gravel layers into the ground long before entering any water courses."

Janyk said he had "grave reservations" about AJB's report, particularly because there is no hydrological study to back up the assertion that the mine will not affect the SCRD's water.

The SCRD requested the Ministry of Energy and Mines impose a long list of conditions if it does approve the gravel mine, including a hydrological impact study, a 30-metre setback from the top of the Chapman Creek ravine, continued public access up the forest service road and a buffer for the Sechelt Rod and Gun Club property to the south. The SCRD also requested AJB "agree to cover any costs associated with the additional burden on the SCRD Chapman Creek water filtration system," a new $7 million water treatment plant which was officially opened last month.

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks