UPDATED: Revelstoke council defers gravel pit development permit decision

Revelstoke council asked for more information about the environmental impact of a proposed gravel pit before issuing a development permit.

Revelstoke Sand & Gravel has applied to develop another gravel pit along Westside Road. Pictured is the City of Revelstoke pit

Revelstoke council asked for more information about the environmental impact of a proposed gravel pit before issuing a development permit.

However, the decision on whether or not the gravel pit will be authorized rests with the provincial government.

Revelstoke Sand & Gravel applied to develop an 8.1 hectare quarry on Crown land off Westside Road, across the Columbia River from the golf course. The quarry would be located 200 metres from the river, and about 600 metres from the clubhouse. The company plans to extract about 10,000 cubic metres of aggregate from the pit every year over the first five years of operation.

They have filed two applications — a land use application with the province for use of Crown land, and a development permit application with the City of Revelstoke.

While the province dwells on the former, the latter went to council last Tuesday, Aug. 11. They were asked to approve a development permit application, with the condition that the proponent conduct a report identifying any “streams, water courses, or other features requiring permitting and/or reporting to Federal and/or Provincial agencies.”

Council chose to defer a vote until questions on the environmental impact of the quarry are answered.

“I would like to recommend the resolution be deferred until council receives further information from staff with respect to the environmental implications of the proposed development permit application,” said Mayor Mark McKee.

As to what the environmental impact study would entail, McKee said that would be up to the councillors. “Council can ask staff on anything that they like and that’s part of why it’s going back, is to make sure we’re comfortable in any and all implications,” he said.

None of those questions were raised during last Tuesday’s meeting and it is not known when the environmental impact study will be ready.

The land is zoned RR60, which allows for gravel pit development. It is also identified for future urban growth, though that is likely a long ways off from happening.

There are several gravel pits in the area already, including one operated by the city further north on Westside Road and another nearby operated by Interroute. The latter proved controversial in 2010 when it expanded to 16 hectares from five hectares.

Resident Stuart Andrews unsuccessfully fought the application. It prompted the city to develop a soil removal bylaw, however the bylaw was never adopted.

In 2013, the North Columbia Environmental Society wrote a letter asking no more gravel pit permits be issued near the city, citing health and environmental concerns.

Ultimately, the decision on whether to offer up the land for development as a gravel pit rests with the Ministry of Forests, Lands & Natural Resource operations, which administers Crown land in the province.

The issue came up in 2012 when Canadian Aggregates applied to develop a gravel pit on Crown landin Maple Ridge.

According to an article in the Maple Ridge News, while the Crown had control over the land, under the Land Act, “The applicant must meet the requirements established by local governments through their bylaws, and the province has no ability to override or provide an exemption to them.”

That information was confirmed by Greig Bethel a spokesperson for the Ministry of Forests, Lands & Natural Resource Operations.

In an e-mail, he said the province grants authorization for gravel pits by granting tenure under the Land Act and permits under the Mine Act.

“Authorizations under both acts are required for gravel pits on Crown land,” he wrote.

Bethel also said that municipal bylaws – such as land-use, zoning, dust and noise issues – apply, but that any bylaws that prohibit or restrict gravel extraction must be approved by the Minister of Energy and Mines.

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