A Revelstoke construction company has applied to open up yet another gravel pit off Westside Road.
Interoute, which currently operates a 28-acre gravel pit off Westride Road across the river from Columbia Park, has applied for a land tenure in order to extract gravel next to its existing operation starting in 2028.
“We’ve been in business for 35 years and we’re going to be there for another 35,” said Corey Rokosh, the manager of Interoute’s Revelstoke operations. “We want to make sure we have all the aggregate we need to supply the community’s needs in the future.”
The future pit would be located almost directly across the river from the Revelstoke Golf Club, in between Interoute’s existing pit and another quarry proposed by Revelstoke Sand & Gravel last August that has yet to be approved.
Rokosh said its existing pit would be exhausted within eight years – before the proposed pit goes into operation. When asked about reclamation, he said that would begin next year and would occur over time as the pit is exhausted and stock piles are drawn down. “It’s going to be progressive reclamation,” he said.
Interoute controversially expanded its existing Westside Road gravel pit in 2010. The expansion saw the pit grow in size from 12 acres to 28 acres.
The move was fought aggressively by Stuart Andrews, whose home off Highway 23 North, sits overlooking numerous quarries north of the Trans-Canada Highway. He has continued his fight ever since to ensure the Ministry of Mines enforces dust control and other conditions placed on the pit.
In August, Andrews made a presentation to council asking it to oppose Revelstoke Sand & Gravel’s application.
“The matter is very contentious and controversial because of the other gravel pits in the surrounding area,” he told council. “Another unregulated gravel pit with no dust controls and producing silica dust will be detrimental to public health.”
He told council his biggest concern was the lack of enforcement of dust control and produced numerous photos of dust blowing off gravel pits in the area.
Photo: Dust blows off a gravel pit near Westside Road. ~ By Stuart Andrews
The impact of gravel pits on public health is the subject of debate. While silica dust, which causes the lung disease silicosis, is considered to hazardous to workers involved in crushing operations, the risk to the general public is at best insignificant and at worst unknown due to the lack of studies on the matter.
Rokosh said Interoute has the best dust control program in the area and challenged me to look at other operations. “We have the best program in place in town bar none,” he said. “We apply dust control to our roads, we water our stock piles, we apply a product to the product so the dust can’t float around. There’s nobody else doing what we’re doing.”
Andrews did not know of this latest application when I contacted him last week. He said he was attending a meeting on Friday and would call back afterward. We did not hear back prior to press time.
“There’s 19 gravel pits across there right now, which is a bit ridiculous,” he said.
The City of Revelstoke limited in what they can do to restrict gravel pits. The city is required to identify areas where gravel can be extracted in its land-use plans. The Ministry of Mines award permits for extraction, while the Ministry of Forests, Lands & Natural Resource Operations, grants land tenure. Applications are referred to municipalities, but it is very rare that they are actually stopped.
In September, council asked the Ministry of Mines to ensure dust and noise control was put in place on the proposed Revelstoke Sand & Gravel pit, if its approved. They also asked for measures to be put in place to mitigate public health concerns. Council also asked the pit be developed in phases. The application has to be approved.
You can read Interoute’s application on the Review website.