From a proposed 31-home subdivision to a gravel pit. That’s the new direction Dean Hodgson is taking with his 80-acre parcel of land on Thomas Avenue and Cardinal Street in Steelhead.
Hodgson’s name is on the application put forward by H&H Contraction to the province’s Ministry of Energy, Mines and Natural Gas to convert the property into a sand and gravel pit.
“Our subdivision was always plan A,” said Hodgson. “Gravel mining is one of our back up plans. Although at this time we have no firm plans to extract or transport gravel, we now need to seriously consider our other options.”
Mayor Ted Adlem said he’s not surprised by the application because Hodgson had indicated that a gravel and sand pit was an option for the property.
The mayor said the property is close to the Welch Avenue Quarry, which just received approval for a processing plant on site. Adlem said he suspects the ministry will give its blessing, and there’s little that can be done to stop it.
“If he’s given the permit, he can dig,” said Adlem. “I don’t think it will matter what we at council or anyone else thinks.”
Adlem is on record for supporting gravel mines as a critical component of the economy.
“Without gravel, you don’t have an economy. You can’t build roads and bridges without it,” he explained.
As for the concerns of Steelhead citizens, Adlem said council listened to their “huge opposition” to the proposed property development and acted accordingly.
Council turned down Hodgson’s Jan. 7 application to rezone the property to rural residential and subdivide the property to build 31 homes that would average 2.56 acres per property.
Under the current rural zoning, any developed property must be four acres.
At their recent proposal to council, Hodgson, along with consultant Ryan Anderson, said the housing development would pump more than $23 million into the local economy. That included $85,000 in local amenities, about $415,000 in development cost charges and $130,000 in park fees. They indicated $630,000 will go directly into the district’s coffers.
With a mine on the property, the district would collect 50 cents per cubic metre of sand and gravel extracted from the site. Any money the District of Mission gets from the site has to be used to repair roads.
Cindy Diamond, co-chairwoman of the Steelhead Community Association said they were caught off guard when they learned of the application. She said they have attempted to get a hold of the plans for the mine from both the Mission library, where they are supposed to be filed for public viewing, and from Hodgson. She said they’ve had no luck with either.
“We really can’t speak on the plans one way or another until we’ve had a look at them,” said Diamond.
However, she said considering the community’s lack of appetite for a subdivision on the property, she doubts the idea of a gravel pit will be welcome. The 80-acre property is surrounded by rural residential properties and said she personally questions if it’s the right place for a mining operation.
She said she’s encouraging anyone in the Steelhead community to make their opinions known to the government.
As part of the approval process, the ministry allows 30 days for anyone to submit their thoughts on the proposal. They must either make written or emailed submissions to the Al Hoffman, the chief inspector for the province at SouthwestMinesDivision@gov.bc.ca.