(Photo- Bob Holmes, road leading up to proposed gravel pit)
Yesterday a community meeting was held to address the proposed gravel pit just outside of town, in attendance included the Coutlee residents, Mayor Linda Brown and few City Council members, MLA Jackie Tegart and David Laird from the TNRD.
Nicola Valley Aggregates LTD. has proposed digging a new gravel pit, approximately two kilometers away from Merritt.
“We were stunned when we learned that the guy who’s bought it has an arraignment with somebody else to put in a gravel pit,” said Robert Holmes.
A group of citizens calling themselves the Coutlee Residents committee have sent a letter to the Chief inspector of mines regarding a proposed gravel pit virtually across the street from the Village of Coutlee.
Spokesman for the committee Robert Holmes spoke to Q101 about the letter they sent to the Ministry of Energy and Mines that laid out 15 points of emphasis on why they oppose the project.
“Anybody that wants to put in a gravel pit has to follow the mines act and there are specific guidelines,” said Holmes. “The first thing on that list is public consultation and that has never taken place.”
Other items included the proximity to communities, noise and dust impacts, traffic considerations and groundwater impacts.
At the community meeting the underlying point of emphasise was to be prepared for the public consolation meeting, which to this point has not been officially scheduled.
For her part MLA Tegart laid out what steps she will be taking.
“I think it’s important to understand that the independent decision maker is an independent decision maker and as an MLA it’s inappropriate for me to try and influence them. I don’t have any problem what so ever though writing a letter saying I’ve heard all the concerns, that it is incredibly important that we have a public meeting. And I will talk to other MLA’s that have been successful in making sure a proposal didn’t go ahead,” said Tegart.
David Laird is the area M Director with the TNRD, he spoke to the view the ministry has towards gravel pits.
“The Ministry does not care how many gravel pits there are existing in a community. They’ll actually approve a gravel pit beside a gravel pit beside a gravel pit. And there’s no such thing as being zoned for mineral extraction the whole of BC is zoned for mineral extraction. It can go anywhere, it’s up to the inspector of mines to decide where and what they should allow to be taken out of the ground,” said Laird.
Laird and Tegart both spoke to the importance of First Nations consultation.
“First Nations consolation is incredibly important. When making presentations it will be incredibly important to emphasise how consolation looks and what hasn’t been done,” said Tegart. “Not that the views of neighbours don’t count but First Nations consultation is incredibly important.”
Another issue that received attention was the road safety along HWY 8 and the road leading up to the proposed pit.
Laird mentioned that early estimates from the ministry put the road work needed at $250,000.
The community is vowing to continue to fight, and the next key step will be at a public consultation meeting with the developers.
On Twitter: @Q101Merritt