While the community of Steelhead continues to rally against a proposed mobile asphalt plant and Mission council waits for a new staff report before making a decision, the proponent of the project says they have had little opportunity to share their information with the public.
Tyler Dean, a project management consultant, is working on behalf of the property owner, Gordon Hartshorne, who has had the land for almost 30 years.
Dean attended the original public hearing, held in December.
“We were quite surprised on a number of fronts, not so much in terms of the public concerns,” he said, noting people don’t necessarily know what a pre-mix asphalt plant is, so there will be questions.
Dean said they were told to be in attendance and council would, most likely, have questions for them.
“We were quite surprised that there were no questions directed at us at all.”
He believes he could have answered many of the council’s and public’s inquiries, including what plant they are bringing in, the age, and the technology.
Dean said he didn’t want to fight with members of the public regarding the facts and decided not to speak until council asked him some direct questions.
Although that didn’t happen, a second opportunity arrived for the proponent to discuss the plant with the Steelhead community.
A community meeting was held in January and Dean said he reached out to the Steelhead association.
“We said we are happy to speak to people. If people are angry with us, then so be it. We want to be able to provide information that people feel they need.”
Dean said organizers agreed to have them attend the community meeting, but cancelled the day before.
“We were told that the membership didn’t want to engage with the proponent.”
Dean feels there are some details that need to be shared with the public.
He explained that currently, one of the two properties in question (11546 Dewdney Trunk Rd.) has a land-use contract which allows for the production of asphalt pre-mix.
However, under that contract there is a specification of a specific plant.
“So we currently have a 2008 state-of-the-art plant that has been purchased, so we would need a name change on the current land-use contract.”
He also pointed out that the area, under the official community plan, is an industrial zoned area.
“We are not operating on a residential area.”
He said he believes there is only one home within a 500-metre radius.
“Our property is completely surrounded by industrial activity. The other fact of the matter is, Davies Sand and Gravel, to the south of us, is currently zoned INRP (Industrial Resource Extraction and Processing). So Davies could put four asphalt plants on the four parcels zoned INRP tomorrow and council could have no objection. All Davies needs to do is register the plant with the Ministry of Environment.”
However, if the proponent already has a land-use contract (LUC) that allows an asphalt plant, why apply for rezoning?
In May 2014, the province passed an amendment to the Local Government Act that terminates all LUCs in the province as of June 30, 2024.
Dean said they talked to the district and it was decided that rezoning was the best option.
“At that time, they said the rezoning, in essence, supports the activity outlined in the land-use contract, so continuity of activity.”
Wanting to be transparent, Dean said they were more than happy to initiate this, to go through the geo-technical and the environmental reports and studies.
“At that point, there really was no objection from the district. Forestry had no objection, engineering had no objection, so in a lot of ways, we felt this was really an administrative step as opposed to a rezoning concept. We were simply in an industrial zone; we were permitted to do this activity. All we wanted to do was flip it over to true rezoning as per the district, and just continue.”
It was also decided to rezone both properties – 11546 and 11596 Dewdney Trunk Rd. – so the plant could be located in the middle.
“We were never informed that there would be a significant pushback to this.”
Dean is hopeful that once the new report comes back to council, it will answer some questions the public has.
“The things that are challenging to us are this concept that we are going to pollute Stave Lake or Mill Lake or air quality issues are going to be greatly inconveniencing residents. That really is not the case.”
He said there is a huge difference between a refinery versus a pre-mix plant.
“A pre-mix plant essentially takes the asphalt binder, which is like a glue, in self-contained storage tanks and mixes it with sand and gravel in a closed containment drum situation, and stores it in a silo. You’re just mixing two materials.”
He said the only burning aspect is to dry the gravel.
“There are no particulates that come out of the stack. Everything is re-filtered back into the mix.
“I guarantee you, people won’t even know that plant is there.”
Dean said he has already offered to the district to conduct monthly stack tests, even though they are only required to do it annually. He has also offered to meet with a committee from Steelhead who could tour the facility.
“There are no fires, there’s no burning of oils. All these discharges that people are talking about and spewing cancerous toxins, it’s just not true.”