News

Abbotsford quarry sparks park access concerns

Adrian MACNAIR

An application by 266531 BC Ltd to quarry 310 acres at the summit of Sumas Mountain in Abbotsford could potentially block public access to Sumas Mountain Regional Park and would hamper plans to convert the region to recreational green space.

The quarry would be situated roughly 400 metres from Chadsey Lake and adjacent to the 3,570-acre Sumas Mountain Regional Park, which some residents fear will become inaccessible with a new quarry.

The park is divided into two main areas on the eastern and southwestern flanks of the mountain, with the proposed quarry situated directly between the two.

The boundaries of the land acquisition would cut directly across Lost Lake Road, preventing the present public access to the largest region of the park and Chadsey Lake.

In February, Greater Vancouver Regional District purchased 165 acres of forested property on the western flank of the mountain for parkland and green space with $4.3 million from its Heritage Parkland Acquisition Fund.

Mayor George Peary, who sits on the GVRD parks board, said the quarry would ruin the future recreational plans of the city and the GVRD.

Local conservationists, such as John Vissers, president of the Fraser Valley Conservancy and a Sumas Mountain resident, wants to connect the two separated park lands as a single nature preserve.

“This could be the Stanley Park of the Fraser Valley and why would we risk it for short-term profit?” he said.

Sumas Mountain is identified by conservationists as a biodiversity hotspot, host to a variety of at-risk species, including the mountain beaver, peregrine falcon, red-legged frog and Oregon forest snail.

GVRD has outlined future plans to feature a hiking trail system that would link Matsqui Trail Regional Park with the Trans Canada Trail, Centennial Trail and Chadsey Lake.

Since the application is for just under 250,000 metric tonnes of decorative and aggregate rock a year, it avoids triggering an environmental assessment.

One mining pit is located in a clearcut that is between three and four years old, while the second pit is in a clearcut that is roughly 25 years old.

The proposal calls for a reclamation program to regrade land after quarrying is ceased, reestablish natural draining patterns and replant clearcut trees.

At capacity there will be an estimated 25 round-trip truck trips per day, which avoids a Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure traffic impact study.

But residents say trucks already congest Sumas Mountain Road, the only road safe enough to access lower regions of the mountain leading to the TransCanada Highway.

The proposal calls to use “existing infrastructure” to reach the quarry, and would require a new 1,160-metre road along old logging paths to access the pits.

Collin Burke, president of the Fraser Valley Mountain Bikers Association, said the quarry would destroy trail access and a formal protection agreement they signed with the province in 2004.

Vissers said nobody is asking current quarries to shut down, but this is one too many.

The public, meanwhile, has until July 9 to comment on the application.

There will be an open meeting to discuss current issues facing Sumas Mountain at Straiton Community Hall Association on Sunday between 4 and 7 p.m.

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