Two new Crown Land applications for a gravel pit on Westside Road, and another along the Jordan Kirkup Forest Service Road, have several residents protesting.
Jake-Jay Construction Ltd. has applied to the province for an aggregate production site on Westside Road, several kilometres up the road from their shop, which is located at 2500 Westside Road.
If approved, the company will relocate its main aggregate production operation to the site, according to a management plan submitted with the Crown Land application. Its current production site is the RSG Jordan Pit, which cannot be accessed in the winter.
The second site, on the Jordan Kirkup Forest Service Road, will be a supplemental location that will only be used once the RSG Jordan Pit is depleted and reclaimed, according to their management plan for the site.
|Residents put up signs on the Jordan River Trail drawing attention to the Crown Land application. (Submitted)|
Virginia Thompson, a Revelstoke resident, said she is concerned for the health and longevity of the Jordan River if the operation is approved.
“This river is a treasure and should be left alone because it is not wrecked yet,” she said.
Thompson regularly hikes both the Upper and Lower Jordan River Trails and is constantly amazed at the beauty, and accessibility, of the area.
“To me, this river, being 10 minutes from Revelstoke, is a tourist gem,” said Thompson. “It’s sort of like an uncut diamond. It will only get more and more valuable when it gets used by tourism more.”
In the management plan, Jake-Jay claims the proximity of the highway and the historical presence of humans and heavy equipment have made the chosen site an unnatural area for wildlife.
|Taken from Westside Rd. this is the dust kicked up by a single truck driving by on a gravel road. (Submitted)|
Thompson is also concerned about the dust that gets kicked up from aggregate operations saying that there isn’t enough information on the compounds in the dust as well as the potential impacts that could have on peoples’ health.
In a letter to city council on the issue, Thompson said she was troubled by the potential for silica dust from the pits.
“This is a family neighbourhood and should not be subjected to this health hazard,” she wrote.
Thompson also pointed out potential impacts to recreation use in the area.
The location on Westside Road will require a small portion of the Boulder Mountain Freeride Area Recreation Site to be closed. If any existing trail infrastructure is located in the area, it will have to be relocated in this small section, the management plan states. The access road will be gated to keep the public out of the production area.
Jake-Jay will also send four trucks per hour up the Jordan Mainline FSR to the Kirkup location. Due to the increased traffic, the roads will be radio controlled.
The roads are often used to access cycling and hiking trails in the area and the Revelstoke Cycling Association, who maintain trails on Boulder Mountain which can be accessed by the Jordan Mainline FSR, said it believes the proposed activities will have little to no effect on the trails and it expects that Jake-Jay and the mountain bike community will continue to be courteous to one another.
|The view from the Landers’ back yard. Dust can be seen from a current gravel operation. (Jocelyn Doll/Revelstoke Review)|
Across the river from several gravel pits, Else and Gordon Landers are also concerned about the potential project.
“When you buy a house and you pay taxes, I think it is sort of assumed that you fall under some sort of protection from the city from an open pit mine next door to you,” Else said.
One of their main concerns is noise.
The management plan proposes sound mitigation such as a natural tree buffer around the site, saying it will be virtually indistinguishable from any traffic travelling down Westside Road.
However, the Landers don’t think a small stand of trees will do much good, given their current experience with the other gravel production sites in the area.
“This is a crusher and a shaker and a sorter,” Else said. “Do you have any idea the noise those things make?”
The couple built their “dream” home in 1974 and planned on living there the rest of their days, Gordon said. But now they are considering moving because of the disruption with both the noise and the dust from current gravel operations across the river.
And, hey are also concerned it could affect their property value.
“I’m just saying this doesn’t belong here,” Else said.
|A map from the City of Revelstoke’s current Official Community Plan identifying the lower Jordan River as a Very High Value Environmentally Sensitive Area.|
In the current version of the city’s Official Community Plan, which is scheduled to be reviewed by city council this year, the area around the Jordan River is designated as a “very high value, environmentally sensitive area.”
According to the plan, it is a community goal to protect and enhance environmentally sensitive areas. Policies include achieving no net loss of wetlands, riparian habitats or sensitive species, securing protection through land donation, conservation covenants or long-term leases and protecting and enhancing the natural environment, its ecosystems and biological diversity within these areas through development permit guidelines.
The guidelines were to be based on recognized ecological standards and practices and limit the level of use and development of these areas.
The application is still in the early phase, with the ministry collecting feedback from stakeholders and the public able to provide input until July 28.
Thompson is also circulating a petition she plans to present to city council.
Though the ministry is the governing body and will make the final decision, the province is currently working with the organizations and local First Nations to obtain input into the application, said Dawn Makarowski, public affairs officer for the BC Ministry of Forests.
The Review reached out to Jake-Jay with follow-up questions but didn’t hear back in time for Monday’s deadline. Please check our website for further updates.