Gravel pit recommendations forwarded to ministry

Part of an area off Bevan Road included in an application to extract gravel falls within an environmentally sensitive area.

The Ministry of Energy and Mines referred the application by Tayco Paving to the Village of Cumberland for comment. According to Cumberland planner Joanne Rees’ report, the pit is expected to be open for 10 years and an average of 25,000 cubic metres of gravel would be removed per day, six days per week.

Cumberland council last week approved making six recommendations to the ministry, however, Rees noted the ministry can choose to ignore most of them if it so chooses.

“Where resources are being extracted and they’re under a permit by a senior agency, in this case the ministry of energy and mines, … our bylaws are transparent,” she told council. “So, the recommendations that I put for you … other than the processing (of the aggregate) and the (need for) business licences, the ministry can ignore, but we hope they don’t.”

The recommendation around processing of the aggregate states all crushing of the resource must be done at Tayco’s industrially-zoned property on Cumberland Road, as the property on Bevan Road is not zoned for this activity.

The Village can also demand that all contractors and subcontractors hold valid Cumberland or inter-community business licences.

As well, the Village recommended that a qualified environmental professional (QEP) prepare a report, identify streamside protection for environmentally sensitive areas and what suitable setbacks are and create a stormwater management plan.

Rees’ report to council noted the lease area extends into an area designated as a greenway, which acts as a buffer around wetland areas flowing into Black Lake. The lease area is also above the “highly vulnerable” Puntledge Aquifer, and floor of the pit is expected to reach down to one metre above the water table.

“In staff’s opinion the environmental impact will be low, provided that sufficient care is taken to prevent contaminants (from vehicles and heavy equipment) from reaching the aquifer and ultimately Comox Lake,” Rees wrote in her report.

The Village also recommended a spill and fire emergency response plan be developed, and remediation of exposed soil areas should include coverage with hydroseed and trees.

“In their remediation plan they were going to leave it naked,” noted Rees. “They were going to put the overburden back on and just leave it, so no trees or grass. I’m suggesting we cover it.”

Finally, the Village recommends the gravel portion of Bevan Road be graded regularly or Cumberland receives money to do it and that it be treated with a dust suppressant — as Rees noted four truck and pup loads of gravel are expected to leave the site per day. Plus, the Village requested a $50,000 security deposit in the event roadwork must be done prior to regular maintenance due to the increased heavy truck traffic.