An emotionally-charged crowd packed Mission council chambers on Tuesday night to participate in a public hearing on a rezoning request to allow a gravel pit operation on Caswell Avenue, adjacent to the existing Shaw pit.
Extra chairs had to be placed in the lobby to deal with the huge turnout.
While many of the more than 45 speakers had concerns ranging from truck traffic and road safety to noise, dust and health concerns, Mayor Randy Hawes made it clear that the District did not have the power to stop the truck traffic or close the provincially-approved gravel pits in the area.
“This public hearing is about one thing, should there be a crusher permitted in the Caswell pit. That’s what it’s about,” said Hawes.
That limited the discussion to noise, dust and quality of life concerns.
Area resident Carole Dufort told council “there is a lot more noise and a lot more dust than people realize.”
“Sometimes you have to consider the people,” she said, adding many of them moved to the area because it was rural and away from the city.
The property is located in a rural area of Mission near Keystone Avenue, and there are a number of homes on larger acreages.
Jackie Conn also raised concern about the noise and dust, but her primary worry was the possible health issues.
“The most grievous and series immediate concern that faces residents of Shaw Street and the surrounding community is of course silica dust. Silica is a naturally occurring mineral found in gravel pits all over the world. We know that. It is also recognized by WorkSafe BC as a class one carcinogenic.”
She said the reason for her concern is the neighbourhood has been bathed in dust for the last two years. She thinks another crusher – one already runs at the Shaw pit – will make it worse.
“This is a dangerous thing you are putting in our neighbourhood.”
Jennie Choboter has experienced living by the Shaw pit, before and after it began running a crusher, and told council when it comes to noise and dust “everything will be doubled and tripled,” if another crusher is approved.
Choboter also asked what benefit there is the Mission taxpayer if this is approved?
“I’m paying for the inconvenience and the absolutely dismal quality of life now.”
Other speakers echoed the same arguments and questions.
“I realize that it is the province that has imposed the gravel operations, but the crusher, you don’t have to approve that. You don’t have to impose that on the people who voted to put you in your seat,” said Phyllis Young.
Sandy Bull told council that the gravel pit fight has been going on for years.
“I have lived here for 27 years and out of that 27 years I have been in this room half a dozen times fighting the same stuff over and over and over again.”
She asked what they had to do to get council to agree that this is not good for Mission.
Jennifer Lee said there are many problems with noise traffic and dust as well as vibrations. She is concerned the constant activity has damaged her home’s foundation and told council that photos often fall off her walls because of the tremors.
“We are dealing with issues already, this is going to create more.”
Several people spoke in favour of the crusher, many of which were Mission residents who work at the gravel pit.
Luke Montaine, who made the zoning application for Kerr Properties, said many people have mixed up the new application with the adjacent Shaw pit. He said noise and dust would not be an issue at Caswell.
“The Shaw property is directly on Shaw Road and located at street level. Noise and dust is in much closer proximity to residences.”
He said the Caswell operation would use new equipment and it will be located at the farthest possible point from residents, located 13 metres in a hole. It will also be out of sight.
Montaine also assured council that they would not operate two crushers at one time saying if they are crushing at Shaw, they would not crush at Caswell.
With the three-hour long hearing completed, council will now go over all of the information and concerns presented before making a decision.