Despite a petition with 59 signatures and one person’s written warning that the district could see people “lying down in the middle of the road with…walkers, canes and wheelchairs” if a local developer’s gravel pit plans were approved, councillors voted in unanimous support of those plans Monday.
Emil Anderson Construction has the go ahead to proceed with plans to extract around 300,000 cubic metres of gravel from their 20060 Hockin Rd. property, product which the company intends to sell and then proceed with longer term plans to build a subdivision on the site. The company now has a permit to run the pit for three years, then it can apply for an extension which would be at council’s discretion.
Sept. 28 was the second time council considered the company’s application – the first time councillors decided together with the developer to have the developer hold public meetings before the temporary use permit was voted on by council.
At the public meeting, held Sept. 3, Emil Anderson committed to moving the haul road 75 metres away from the nearest property on Beacon Road and keeping a six- to eight-metre wide boundary of trees behind homes on Beacon. This was in addition to previous commitments from the company, to keep dust and noise from the site at a minimum.
While the first consideration of Anderson’s application drew 28 letters in opposition, a half dozen were received this time around including Connie Fitter’s which contained the ‘walkers, canes and wheelchairs’ statement. One submission, a petition with 59 signatures, opposed Anderson’s plans to put a rock crusher on the site and the resulting noise and air pollution.
Several referenced concerns around how the gravel pit would affect the seniors living in the neighbourhood, some of whom suffer from pre-existing medical conditions. “We do not mind a subdivision, we all knew it would come. But a real live gravel pit with a crusher and equipment feeding it, we cannot stand that,” wrote Connie Fitter. “Many of us have asthma, cancer, heart problems…sleep problems and more.”
Two residents raised concerns about developments across B.C. getting approved too easily due to the lack of public presence in these processes due to COVID-19 or perceptions of too close a relationship between developers and municipalities.
“This is a residential RS-1 zoned piece of land and not something that should be turned into heavy industrial land for 3 to 6 years,” Trina Shust wrote.
Councillors echoed each other in voicing their belief in Emil Anderson being a trustworthy company. “I don’t think that they’re a company that’s going to go out and dust out their neighbours,” councillor Dusty Smith said, adding that the company’s building project in the Okanagan has proven this.
Councillors Scott Medlock and Heather Stewin said they would like to see the gravel processed in as short a time as possible. “This is my neighbourhood,” Stewin said. “I live in Silver Creek and I’m a pedestrian…I have some of the same concerns that have been brought forward. But at the same time…we know that there’s a housing crisis and we know that we need more homes and that we need to diversify our (housing) stock.”
And councillors said while they previously had concerns – Craig Traun and Bob Erickson were concerned about where the crusher would be placed and Stewin about whether the product should be processed on the property – councillors said they were put to rest by the information provided by Emil Anderson.
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