Say "NO" to a proposal for a rock quarry and gravel pit on Richards Trail in North Cowichan, BC

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We strongly oppose the application for a sand/gravel pit and rock quarry at the Pastula Farms property located at 7303 Richards Trail, North Cowichan. Every signature is emailed to the Ministry of Energy and Mines to petition them to deny this proposal for the following reasons:

1. Personal safety of those using Richards Trail by vehicle, bike, horse or by foot. The road is part of recreational route used regularly by cycling groups, car enthusiasts and equestrian users. Industrial traffic will put the safety and well being of these users at risk. On 90% of the trail between Herd Road and Westholme, there is little to no shoulder for the protection of these users.  There are also families that walk the street, often with their dogs or pushing baby carriages, who are equally at risk from the introduction of Industrial traffic to the trail.

2. Richards Trail is not engineered to accomodate industrial traffic.  It is called a “trail” for good reason. The street is not wide enough for dump trucks and tandem trailers to safely navigate the narrow turns, especially with other traffic. The asphalt paving is already in poor condition from the current traffic levels, especially along the sides where the paving is crumbling. Some of the corners are blind and the changing elevation of the road often temporarily blocks the view of on-coming vehicle and pedestrian traffic. Additionally, much of Richards Trail is sided by a ditch on one side and steep drop in terrain on the other.  Several cars have already driven off the road and down the embankment near houses along the road in the recent past. Should a tandem truck with a load of stone fail to negotiate a turn or oncoming traffic, the results could be serious and potentially fatal. 

3. Concern for the negative impact this type of activity would have on the health of Richards Creek watershed, including the tributaries that flow in close proximity to the proposed mine.  Proper hydrological studies are needed to determine the impact of such industrial use on area aquifers and water courses. The blasting and mining would occur above the creek and previous blasting has already had negative impacts on neighbouring water sources and private wells. Richards Creek and side tributaries are salmon bearing creeks and connect to the Somenos Basin and Cowichan River.

4. Noise and debris would have a negative impact on the residents. Currently the co-applicant runs an excavating and trucking company. The ongoing removal of sand/ gravel and rocks from Pastula Farms has resulted in many complaints to the District of North Cowichan and MEM for years. Residents of the area can expect the noise to increase significantly. The application states the operation of the mine would be from 8am-4pm daily.  Previous blasting has already had an effect on the residents ability to enjoy their property. Many residents have reported feeling their homes shake as the blasting occurred. Other owners report a negative impact of blasting on their pets and livestock.

5. The blasting of rock from Richards Mountain could undermine the integrity of the hillside. Continued blasting and removal of aggregate poses the potential risk for rock slides and falling debris. Concerned residents have not seen any evidence of appropriate geological studies to confirm if the mountain can tolerate blasting without putting public roads and human safety in jeopardy. 

6. Richards Mountain is a North Cowichan Forest Reserve. The proposed mine site borders the reserve which is used by nature lovers, hikers, mountain bikers and hunters. The proposed quarry would certainly have a negative impact on residents throughout the Cowichan Valley who enjoy the natural beauty of the area for recreational purposes. North Cowichan offers a guide to trails which includes those on Richards Mountain - http://www.northcowichan.ca/EN/main/departments/parks-recreation/fields-parks-trails.html.

7. The proposed reclamation program is lacking in any substance. There has been insufficient details with respect to what reclamation will take place to the property after any proposed mining activity has occurred. So far, there is little evidence of any reclamation from the prior removal of sand, gravel and blasted rock. The "notice of work" offers no evidence of financial or underwriting surety to guarantee remediation. There is already existing damage to the property in the form of previous blasting and sand gravel removal which has not been remediated or reclaimed for any use. 

8. Negative impact on local home-based tourism businesses and eco-tourism. Richards trail is home to a number of small home-based businesses, including a recording studio, yoga studio, ceramic studio etc. An operating mine near these business (and all that negative factors described above which accompany such an operation) would have a strong negative effect on the financial viability of these community supported and licensed businesses. This is an undue hardship on the business operators on Richard’s Trail who have worked for years to establish and develop legitimate businesses in accordance with local zoning and regulations.

9. Dangerous precedent: what granting this application means to other BC residents living in agricultural areas.  Do we want to live in a province where any farmer can turn his land into a rock quarry or gravel pit if he or she has agricultural zoning? Do you want to wake up one day to find your neighbour is blasting for stone all day long? We need to have more respect for agricultural land and the people who live in it and around it. This property is zoned A2 and has operated as a farm for many decades and should continue to be agricultural residential land. The province should not be sacrificing rural residential land for industrial land. Industrial zoning is the place for industrial enterprise.  

 

Details of Application from the "Notice of Work" submission by Catherine Pastula;

• type of work: Quarry - Construction aggregate

• activities to be undertaken: Blasting, Sand & Gravel/ Quarry Operations 

 5 year license

• proposed start and end date: Jun 20, 2014 to July 26th, 2019

• proposed work schedule: removal of rock to be done 8am to 4pm

• estimated total minable reserves over the life of mine: 100,000 m3

• estimated annual extraction from site: 25,000 tonnes

• estimated cost of reclamation: $500

Please write your opposition to the proposal and forward to the address specified in the Public Notice reproduced below, or email your letters to:

southwestminesdivision@gov.bc.ca

Time is of essence to respond prior to August 30th, 2014. You may request a public hearing prior to any final decision to allow the public to gather more information. 



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