Historic MOU puts conditions on FVRD gravel removal

It has taken more than a decade of wrangling and negotiating for stakeholders to come to a formal agreement

It's taken more than a decade of wrangling for stakeholders to come to a formal agreement on commercial gravel operations in the Fraser Valley Regional District.

It's taken more than a decade of wrangling for stakeholders to come to a formal agreement on commercial gravel operations in the Fraser Valley Regional District.

There’s always been a lot of friction caused by competing interests involved in Fraser Valley gravel extraction.

That is why it has taken more than a decade of wrangling and negotiating for stakeholders to come to a formal agreement on commercial gravel operations in the Fraser Valley Regional District.

FVRD, industry and provincial officials signed an MOU on Sept. 27 that spells out how, where, and when gravel extraction can take place.

Mission’s mayor had a role to play in bringing clarity to a cloudy issue.

“About 13 or 14 years ago, then MLA and now mayor of Mission Randy Hawes set out to resolve the friction that often occurred between commercial gravel operators and local governments in the Fraser Valley,” said Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett in a release.

Minister Bennett and FVRD chair Sharon Gaetz signed the memorandum of understanding (MOU) in Victoria last month, which maps out how they’ll further harmonize the process of getting a permit, and get cooperation in seeking compliance and enforcement of commercial gravel ops.

“We are so grateful to Minister Bennett and the Province for levelling the playing field, providing a workable solution that will be good for the community and for industry,” said FVRD chair Sharon Gaetz.

“The board is very pleased to finally have a tool that represents a step forward in achieving compromise between many competing interests.”

Chilliwack-Hope MLA Laurie Throness sees good things coming from the agreement.

“Our economy needs inexpensive gravel, and this bylaw ensures that plenty of it will be available, but it also makes sure that gravel operations are not sited in places that are onerous for nearby residents,” said Throness. “I think it’s a win-win situation.”

The bylaw defines areas in the regional district where the FVRD will and will not permit removal operations, using colour coding, like red, yellow and green. The areas also determine what, if any, extra requirements and restrictions may apply.

“As a result of a great deal of hard work by Mayor Hawes, local government and industry, the Fraser Valley Regional District has a bylaw in place that achieves a reasonable balance and ensures a long-term supply of aggregate in the region,” added Bennett.

The restrictions also place limits on the sources.

“My decision to approve this bylaw was based on my view that, even with the prohibited zones set out in the bylaw, there is a sufficient supply of aggregate in the region,” Bennett said.

It won’t be carte blanche the minister said.

“I also want to be clear that the approval of this bylaw for the FVRD should not be seen as blanket approval for similar bylaws in other jurisdictions. It took over 10 years of extensive consultations and considerable work on the part of all parties for the FVRD to get to

this point.”

Restriction definitions:

* Restricted Areas – commercial aggregate operations are not allowed.

* Community Areas – commercial aggregate operations are allowed but

subject to additional FVRD requirements and restrictions (e.g., noise and

dust limits).

* All areas outside of the Restricted and Community Areas – commercial

aggregate operations are allowed and not subject to noise or dust limits.

This area encompasses over 90% of the FVRD’s rural area.