New quarry could put Sumas Prairie at risk, city says

Council objects to possible gravel operation above pump station keeping Sumas Lake from re-forming

A possible expansion of a quarry on the south side of Sumas Mountain could pose a risk to the Barrowtown pump station and the safety of Sumas Prairie residents, according to City of Abbotsford staff.

Scott Carley, who operates a quarry on the southeastern edge of the mountain, has asked the province for permission to investigate the gravel potential of an adjacent property.

The plan has already encountered resistance from the Fraser Valley Regional District, and now the City of Abbotsford has chimed in with its own concerns.

Staff say they have nine different concerns about the proposal, which would be within city limits.

Among the most serious is the potential impacts to Quadling Road and the Barrowtown pump station directly below the proposed site.

“The magnitude of the potential quarry raises significant concerns regarding the geo-technical stability of an exposed quarry rock face in the range of 200 metres to 300 metres high above Quadling Road, during and after the potential quarry,” staff wrote in a report to council.

“This uncertainty has the potential to significantly increase the risk to the safe operation of the pump station facility, and, in turn, the livelihood and safety of Sumas Prairie residents.”

The pump station is one of the largest of its kind in North America and prevents Sumas Prairie – which was once a lake – from refilling with water.

Carley has proposed to dig four 15-metre test holes to determine the quality and quantity of extractable gravel. A second application would be required if a quarry is found to be feasible on the 20-acre piece of land.

Carley told The News the investigation would be done with an eye to expanding the current quarry on site, with remediation of the properties to follow any work.

He said the city and FVRD have “legitimate concerns” that he would look to address in any subsequent application to actually begin gravel operations on the site.

“It’s really preliminary,” he said of his current plans. He said the bulk of discussions at this point have involved the Sumas First Nation.

The City of Abbotsford has a variety of objections to the plan, and says existing soil removal areas can provide sufficient amounts of gravel to local industry.

The report for council referenced past community concerns about quarry activity in the area, “due to concerns of additional truck traffic on local roads, and increased dust, noise and impacts from blasting.”

There are additional concerns about the scarring of the face of the mountain, which would be increased in any expansion of the site.

The city also says reclamation of the area is “uncertain,” that roads in the area can’t accommodate increased truck traffic, and that the proposed site would go against Abbotsford’s official community plan and soil bylaw.

The FVRD, which operates Sumas Mountain Interregional Park next to the proposed site, has its own concerns.

Staff at the regional district have said any project would require proper planning and would require that species at risk and water sources be protected.


@ty_olsen
tolsen@abbynews.com

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