Despite significant opposition, Coldstream Ranch has dug up just enough support locally to move ahead with its gravel pit operation.
An application for soil removal and reclamation at the Rosebush gravel pit is being forwarded by Coldstream council to the Agricultural Land Commission for consideration.
The application is a continuation of reclamation work being done at the site on Highway 6 across from the King Edward forest access road.
While the ranch has undergone reclamation work to improve agricultural capability on its properties for 50 years, the work at this particular site has stirred up significant opposition.
“We’re dealing with quite a long, tortured history of this pit,” said Coun. Richard Enns, who did not support forwarding the application to the ALC, along with Councillors Maria Besso and Bill Firman.
Many neighbouring residents have complained about the operation over the years – citing concerns over noise, dust, hours of operation and property impacts.
“Local residents have experienced a collective real estate depreciation of much more than a million dollars as this mine has moved rapidly towards their homes,” stated Jeff Mellows in a recent presentation to council.
Therefore, when Coldstream Ranch submitted its latest application in January (which council must approve before forwarding to the ALC) Coldstream council had local concerns in mind as it held back from pushing the application forward.
“It’s taken two-and-a-half months,” said Ted Osborn, Coldstream Ranch director of projects.
“Every month that is delayed in actual field work is actually four to six months.”
Enns defends the delay, saying it was necessary to examine the operation and resident complaints.
“The delay that you are seeing is Coldstream Ranch’s own fault,” Enns told Osborn Monday.
“I resent the fact that you are blaming us for a delay here.”
Some concerns have been raised that the ranch is not complying with reclamation requirements and/or going ahead with work when it is not approved.
“It’s very important to come with clean hands and quite frankly it hasn’t happened thus far,” said Enns.
Taking offence to Enn’s accusations, Osborn says the ALC has approved all of the work Coldstream Ranch has done.
Bob Bibby, Coldstream’s bylaw officer, adds: “My understanding is all the criteria has been met that’s been asked in 2009.”
After going through the paper trail of applications, Coun. Maria Besso agreed that the ranch appears to have complied with reclamation requirements.
But since the district anticipates another ALC application from the ranch in the summer (covering lots closest to Buchanan Road), council will be working with the ranch to address concerns.
The two parties may enter into a binding agreement, enforceable by injunction or bond, to establish performance measures to address dust, notice and hours of operation.
There may also be a requirement that more area is being reclaimed than mined in any given year.
The ranch already provides quarterly reports to the ALC to track the progress of mining and reclamation.
In response to other concerns, Osborn says hours of operation are 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday, with any outside hours being notified to the bylaw officer.
There are also several dust control measures onsite and to limit impacts to Buchanan Road residents the only access to the project is by a road from Highway 6.
“Obviously the desire is there to satisfy the neighbours,” said Besso.
The ranch is also keen to deal with complaints immediately and has therefore requested the district to notify them of any issues.
“When there’s a complaint, within 24 hours that information is sent by email to the contractor to find out if it’s legitimate,” said Osborn, adding that they don’t need names, they just need to look into the situation.
“So that if there’s a complaint, that it’s looked after right now.”
The ranch is interested in completing the reclamation process as soon as possible, says Osborn.
But the rate of reclamation is dependant on the appropriate clean fill coming from excavation from construction, placement of underground water and sewer infrastructure and the development of roads.
Depending on such factors, this could take six to eight years before the entire project is complete.
“It could be as early as 2016,” said Osborn.