A proposed mining operation just past Abbotsford’s eastern border would have many negative effects but few positive ones, council says.
“This seems absolutely ridiculous,” said Coun. Ross Siemens. “Even if it did go forward, we’d receive no royalties [and] wear and tear on our roads.”
The city argues that quarrying stone on the 310-acre area of Sumas Mountain just beyond city limits would disrupt the environment and cause heavy wear to city infrastructure. The operation would be on Abbotsford-adjacent Crown land, in Electoral Area G of the Fraser Valley Regional District, and would produce decorative rock.
There has been controversy about quarrying rock from this land since a quarry was first proposed in 2011 by numbered corporation 266531 B.C. Ltd.. That proposal was met with opposition from the City of Abbotsford, the Fraser Valley Regional District, Metro Vancouver and area residents.
The 2011 application was later withdrawn. This new mining lease application by the same corporation would be the first in many steps to get such an operation underway again.
On Oct. 19 council voted to send a letter vehemently opposing the lease to the provincial government.
Coun. Sandy Blue noted that her opposition was not to quarries in general, but she said existing operations in the area are already producing enough rock and gravel to meet market demand. Her opposition was particularly to the wear this project could cause to city roads.
Development of the quarry has not begun, and the corporation has been paying the province yearly fees to hold mineral claims without using them for production. Dave Taylor, owner of Westland Tractor Company in Kamloops, was listed as a representative for 266531 and did not respond to requests for comment.
The city opposes the project for a variety of reasons. They’re concerned that trucks moving to and from the site will cause heavy wear on Sumas Mountain Road, and that the operation’s location outside of the city means no royalties will be paid to make up the cost of maintenance. They also oppose the project because it could restrict use of Sumas Mountain Inter-Regional Park.
“This in a park … referred to as the ‘lungs of the Fraser Valley.’ To me it makes no sense that they (the province) could even entertain this,” Siemens said.
Sumas Mountain Inter-Regional Park contains multiple non-connected pieces of land in the Sumas Mountain area, and is jointly managed by Metro Vancouver (on the Abbotsford side) and the Fraser Valley Regional District (on the east side). The two districts hope to eventually connect the park’s two flanks into one large park. Wendy DaDalt, a Metro Vancouver regional parks manager, worries that this proposed quarry, just beside the park’s eastern flank near Chadsey Lake, would make connection more difficult.
“Part of our vision is to have connectivity … through a corridor running east to west,” DaDalt said. “That’s very close to the proposed mining lease area.”
The quarry would also fall in an area popular with hikers and mountain bikers. The Fraser Valley Mountain Bikers Association has also voiced opposition to the project.
It would take a few steps to get the mining lease approved, including consultation with the Sumas First Nation. After that, the corporation would face a number of additional regulatory hurdles before starting work on the quarry. If all approvals are met, the 2011 application says a quarry could be up and running within four months.