Dear Editor, It is time to call a spade a spade regarding conflict gravel mining in British Columbia.
The number one reason there is perpetual conflict between communities and gravel producers in British Columbia is the 150 year old archaic B.C. Mining Act, which was originally established to open up our province to prospectors seeking precious metals and minerals. This act gave practically unlimited usage of land to find these rare commodities, using almost any form of mining process that was deemed necessary to extract this bounty, and subsequently drew prospectors and adventurers from all over the world looking for the elusive mother lode. There were practically no laws governing how or where these seekers of wealth could go, or how they could go about their task.
Obviously, it is very difficult for most rational people to equate precious metals and gems, to gravel, after all, sand and gravel are the most common substances on the planet, but the Gravel Producers quickly realized, that if they too could hide behind the archaic Mining Act of B.C. they could be afforded the same liberties and protection granted to the gold miners. Unfortunately this came to pass, which is why you see new gravel mines opening in the midst of communities at an alarming rate. If you were to read the mandate from the Aggregate Producers, it states that to maximize profits and minimize additional costs, gravel mines should be located as close as possible to main arterial routes, unfortunately, communities also tend to congregate on main arterial routes. Another mandate is to downplay or ignore any environmental concerns, safety, air quality, pollution, health issues, noise, heavy traffic, or aquifer protection including streams or fish bearing creeks.
Our Provincial Government has done nothing to alleviate this contentious issue, they just allow the Ministry of Mines to continue to issue permits to mining conglomerates at an alarming rate despite enormous community opposition. There is hardly ever a permit that is rejected, and almost no follow up. Mines continually ignore or circumvent any rules placed upon the mine, and local municipal governments are weak and unwilling to uphold their own land use designations. The whole process takes place behind closed doors away from public scrutiny on a need to know basis, and the public are spoon fed lies and deceptions. The mining lobby is very powerful, and few politicians either provincial or municipal are brave enough to face this juggernaut, those who do face ridicule and ostracization.
It is time for the truth to be told and acted upon. Everyone realizes that gravel is an essential component to building our economy and province, but it needs to be done in a way that does not endanger our habitat for now or future generations, isn’t this obvious? It is high time that the gravel industry be governed by a Government Act designed purely for gravel and aggregate producers, with community imput and no longer be allowed to hide behind the skirts of an outdated, outmoded 150 year old Mining Act which was never designed to encompass gravel in the first place.
The whole arterial corridor of highway 7 through Lake Errock, is a prime example of the insanity of the current mining application process, and the unwillingness of Municipal or Provincial Governments to put the population or community before corporate greed.