Abbotsford residents, with the backing of the city, are appealing to the premier and cabinet in an effort to undermine a 300-acre gravel quarry proposal for Sumas Mountain.
Close to 90 residents recently submitted a petition to the city opposing the application by a Kelowna-based numbered company, 266531 BC Ltd., to set up operations on Crown lands located in FVRD Electoral Area G, adjacent to Sumas Mountain Regional Park.
The petition, organized by Sumas Mountain resident Mark Rushton, requests that Premier Christy Clark and her cabinet intervene and reject the application.
The quarry application involves a 30-year lease to extract aggregate and decorative rock at two sites with a lifespan estimated at 100 years, according to FVRD data.
In an attached letter, Rushton notes that if the application is granted the public will lose road access to Sumas Regional Park, which includes the popular hiking destination Chadsey Lake.
The proposed quarry site also butts up against the city's border and would negatively impact one of the last remaining areas for residential growth in the municipality, according to Rushton.
"Not only would the mine destroy most recreation opportunities on the mountain for 100 years," he wrote "it will create . . . an industrial highway through the heart of Abbotsford's future residential area."
Abbotsford city council endorsed Rushton's recommendation and letter, and the citizens' petition without reservation at its meeting last Monday (Nov. 19).
"Residents are pretty unanimous that they don't want this thing," said Mayor Bruce Banman.
"There's enough gravel mining up there already, and it's more to do with the right idea in the wrong place."
Abbotsford and the Fraser Valley Regional District have already voiced their opposition to the proposed gravel pit to the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations on a number of occasions.
Aside from community opposition, the city is also opposed to the plan for economic reasons.
As the site is on Crown land, Abbotsford wouldn't earn any extraction fees but would have to bear the brunt of the risks and costs of maintaining Sumas Mountain Road, with an estimated increase of 20 to 40 per cent in truck traffic, which would also travel residential roads not designed for industrial use.
The applicant estimates average production will be 225,000 metric tons per year with trucks making 25 round-trips daily.
The city has also argued that there are already seven active quarries in the region and that aggregate supply won't be endangered for decades, if not 100 years.
The Metro Vancouver regional district has also voiced its opposition to the mining plan.
Metro Vancouver recently spent $4.5 million for 165 acres of park reserve land in the same area of Sumas Mountain, adjacent to 122 acres for parks owned by the City of Abbotsford, all of which will be used to create a trail system to link Matsqui Trail Regional Park, the Trans Canada Trail, the Centennial Trail and Chadsey Lake.
In March, the resource ministry informed Metro Van and Abbotsford that the applicant is focusing on a project in Maple Ridge but that the Sumas Mountain application would remain open.
However, in his letter, Rushton asks cabinet to reject the quarry application now rather than later so the proponent doesn't spend any more money on the plan, and to prevent the company from asking the government for compensation should the proposal be rejected in the future.
Victoria should respond to the unified opposition on the proposal, said Banman.
"Respectfully, the province needs to hear us on this matter," he said.
"We have a lot of experience with gravel mining and there are too many problems with this."