Welch Avenue quarry to expand operations

Councillor Jenny Stevens only one opposed to expansion

The District of Mission is allowing the Welch Avenue Quarry Company to go ahead with plans to place a processing plant on the site despite the fact the owner  drained a pond without provincial or federal approvals.

The owner of the company, Norm Tapp, faced limited opposition during a public hearing Monday.

Dan Plecas of Cannon Street in Mission, said in light of the owners actions, granting approval should raise concerns on council.

“I think it’s concerning to the district that someone would be permitted to do this without any recourse to from the district,” said Plecas, noting that the owner cleared all tree from the land.

Under current district bylaws, there is no regulations when it comes to land owners clearing their trees. However, because the property is next to municipal forest land, the clear-cut has some implications for the district.

Any harvesting on the municipal forest must meet the visual quality objectives under the Forest and Range Practices Act so any cutting of trees on the land adjacent to the quarry could be delayed for years or force the district to consider more expensive options.

Plecas said concerns brought forward by the provincial government regarding the degradation of the land is problematic once the mine is no longer operational and should also be reason for council to turn down the application.

Coun. Jenny Stevens was the lone voice of opposition. She said she doesn’t believe allowing Welch Avenue Quarry to expand their operations benefits the district.

She noted the owner has not convinced her that he has any concerns about his community and  she has no interest in assisting him in his business.

“There are already a number of quarries up there. One more will only add to the aggravation of the people who live up there,” noted Stevens, who conceded the district can stop Welch Avenue Quarry from mining and limit processing that already exists at the 40-acre site. “If we don’t give this zoning amendment, then we can prevent further processing, noise, dust, pollution and all the rest of it.”

Stevens said her concerns relate to the draining of a pond on the site and clear-cutting of trees on the property several years ago.

In a report to council, staff noted that a large pond on the lot had been drained without the proper approvals from the provincial WaterAct and the federal Fisheries Act. As it stands, the Ministry of Environment is requiring Welch Quarry to provide “reclamation measures to address the environmental damage.” The two sides have come to an agreement on addressing the issue that will include siltation pools, settling ponds and filtration measures on land that drains towards the nearby Mill Pond.

Coun. Jeff said he also had some reservations about granting the rezoning, and questioned the benefits for Mission.

Mayor Ted Adlem was quick to point them out. “We maintain an economy, because if you don’t have gravel you don’t have an economy.”

He said the addition of allowing the processing at the site means more jobs in Mission.

Adlem said the current quarry site had been approved for this type of zoning by previous municipal councils. With the rezoning, Welch Avenue Quarry could see as much as 225,000 tonnes extracted in a strong market.