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City opposed to questionable quarry in Abbotsford

A rock quarry is being proposed on Sumas Mountain. The red boundaries represent the location of the pits. - Google Earth
A rock quarry is being proposed on Sumas Mountain. The red boundaries represent the location of the pits.
— image credit: Google Earth

Adrian MACNAIR

A proposed seventh rock quarry with two pits spanning 310 acres at the top of Sumas Mountain has infuriated some residents of Abbotsford, city council and the Fraser Valley Regional District.

In fact, the city and FVRD only learned about the quarry when a notice of intent to apply for the provincial Crown land was posted in a local newspaper.

“That’s a huge oversight on the part of somebody in the ministry of mines,” said Mayor George Peary, adding council voted Monday to instruct staff to prepare a letter to the province registering the “strongest possible objection” to the quarry.

The city opposes the quarry for a number of reasons, but ultimately can’t block approval since the land falls in Area G of the FVRD and access is provincially regulated through the Ministry of Energy and Mines.

Sumas Mountain was known as Area H until 2008, when most residential properties were absorbed into the City of Abbotsford.

The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource replied to queries by email, saying they have received 12 responses from the public that “generally oppose the proposal.”

The proposal is in the referral process right now, which means various levels of government and the general public have until July 12 to voice their objection or support of the quarry.

The email also stated the city of Abbotsford and the FRVD have been consulted, but Coun. Patricia Ross said that isn’t true, adding the deadline to respond to the quarry is “impossible.”

“Our board meets once a month. Our staff have to have time to review it. They’re absolutely swamped as it is,” she said.

Peary said not only would Abbotsford receive no royalties from the mine, the roads would be severely impacted from additional traffic. He said he intends to personally complain to Abbotsford West MLA Mike de Jong on Saturday.

The News acquired a copy of the draft management plan, dated Jan. 7, showing Dave Taylor of 266531 BC Ltd., the owner of Westland Tractor Company in Kamloops, as being the applicant. Taylor declined to be interviewed.

The quarry would remove 225,000 metric tonnes of decorative and aggregate rock per year for a lifespan of 100 years, and would require construction of a 1,160 metre road to access it. After approval, the quarry could be operational within four months.

Although the site is on provincial Crown land, Sumas Mountain is within the traditional territory of Sumas First Nation, who have previously resisted rock quarries on the mountain.

In March 2008 the Sumas band blockaded Lower Sumas Mountain Road to mining trucks in protest of some 200 trucks travelling through their territory every day. The Ministry of Transportation eventually built a bypass on Atkinson Road so trucks could avoid the reserve.

In April 2003 the band blocked the road in protest of the sixth, and last, mine to be granted approval on Sumas Mountain.

Although the Sumas First Nation was unavailable for comment, elder Ray Silver said he didn’t think the band was aware of the proposal.

“We’ll be 199 per cent against it. They’ve already destroyed the hell right out of the mountain,” he said, adding the Sumas has land claims pending on the mountain already.

According to the Draft Management Plan, the quarry has been nearly five years in planning. On Dec. 22, 2006, a letter was sent to Sumas Chief Dalton Silver discussing a royalty offer, and was followed up by a Protocol Agreement which did not get signed.

There were two subsequent meetings between Dave Taylor and Chief Silver, but there has been no contact between either party since August 2009.

Ross said a quarry would completely destroy plans to convert Sumas Mountain to more recreational green space.

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