FVRD power over gravel mines incompletely reported: Gaetz

Controversial gravel plan sparks flurry of news releases as public meeting in Chilliwack draws near.

The power of the Fraser Valley Regional District over gravel mines was incompletely reported in a web story Thursday.

The FVRD does have bylaw authority to regulate how gravel mines operate, but in the past the bylaw has not been followed or the regional district has not been aware of new pits that have opened until complaints are received from nearby residents.

FVRD chair Sharon Gaetz said bylaw violators can be taken to court, but the cost is high and residents in the electoral area bear the expense.

The proposed Aggregate Pilot Project will shift those enforcement costs to the industry, she said.

“We do have the power to stop them, but if we do take them to court, the ones who pay (currently) are the electoral areas,” she said.

A flurry of news releases from the FVRD, Area C Director Wendy Bales and the Fraser Valley Regional District Citizens’ Association preceded a public meeting scheduled for Tuesday in Chilliwack.

Rural residents of the region have felt shut out of negotiations to develop the APP, which designates where future gravel mines can be located.

The APP also makes changes to the fees paid by gravel operators.

FVRD directors will attend the Tuesday meeting, but no vote on the APP is expected until later this year. If the bylaw is approved, further public consultations would also be required to make any zoning changes or amendments to official community plans.

But APP opponents contend the powers of the provincial government, biased toward business interests, will “trump” any local concerns raised by residents.

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