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Sumas Mountain quarry proposal raises safety concerns for father

Garrith Michael, is hoping a proposed quarry will not make life unlivable at his Sumas Mountain home. He is concerned for the safety of his children, six-year-old Ava (left), 11-year-old Tanner (right) and his nine-year-old daughter Sophie (not pictured). A new quarry will mean even more dump trucks traveling along the winding roadway. - Kevin Mills
Garrith Michael, is hoping a proposed quarry will not make life unlivable at his Sumas Mountain home. He is concerned for the safety of his children, six-year-old Ava (left), 11-year-old Tanner (right) and his nine-year-old daughter Sophie (not pictured). A new quarry will mean even more dump trucks traveling along the winding roadway.
— image credit: Kevin Mills

When Garrith Michael bought his dream home 18 months ago, he planned to live there for the rest of his life.

But the announcement of a proposed quarry on Sumas Mountain has him rethinking his plan.

Michael, like several mountain residents, is concerned the proposed quarry could make life unbearable. While the constant noise from blasting and the destruction of the area’s natural beauty are important issues, his primary concern is safety.

There are several gravel pits already located on the mountain and Michael said he’s seen three separate incidents where a full gravel truck has forced a minivan off to the side of the road. He has three children of his own and drives them, in a minivan, to Auguston Traditional School.

“I know what can happen when a full dump truck hits a minivan,” said Michael, who has been a professional firefighter for more than a decade.

The application, by a company called 266531 BC Ltd., to quarry 310 acres on Sumas Mountain 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 about 400 metres from Chadsey Lake and adjacent to the 3,570 acre park, which some residents fear will become inaccessible if the quarry is allowed.

If approved by the provincial government, the quarry would remove 225,000 metric tonnes of decorative aggregate rock per year for 100 years.

Michael isn’t the only person concerned about the idea. Several other residents, the City of Abbotsford, the Fraser Valley Regional District and Metro Vancouver have all objected to the quarry.

But it is the residents on the mountain who will be most affected.

When he moved from Auguston to his new home on Liamel Road, Michael knew trucks would be an issue, considering the existing quarries. But he said another quarry project is too much.

He has dealt with quarry owners before, expressing his fears and concerns, and found them to be quite open to ideas.

“But once the truck leaves the quarry pit, there’s not much they can do, it’s all on the driver,” he said.

As for the blasting, his house already shakes and “adding another 310 acres will only make it worse.”

He’s also concerned the shaking will compromise his well.

Michael is not against gravel pits and quarries, he just doesn’t want another site to deal with.

“We all have to work. We all have to feed our families, but enough is enough.”

As for the scenery, he admits that’s why most people choose to live on the mountain and he doesn’t want to see it destroyed.

“We (he and his wife Kristin) have worked hard. We’ve shed blood, sweat and tears to get this dream home ... I pictured my daughters getting married in our front yard,” he said.

And he will not let that dream go. No matter what happens, Michael said he isn’t going to abandon the dream.

“I’m digging in. I’m not leaving.”

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