Fraser Valley Quarry Proposal - A Stagnant Debate

by aander05 on October 6, 2017 - 2:07pm

      In 2011 the mining and exploration company 266531 B.C. Ltd proposed new quarry development in the Fraser Valley. Today, the quarry proposal remains a heated debate with no agreement in sight (Britten, 2017). The provincial government and local municipalities in the region are the main opposing actors. Metro Vancouver staff and the Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) strongly oppose development citing environmental and recreational concerns. Frieda Schade, Metro Vancouver’s manager of park planning and engineering, claims that the proposed quarry overlaps with the boundaries of the nearby park that is co-managed by Metro Vancouver and the FVRD. She also states that there are more than 40 species at risk in the area. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources recently responded to these concerns stating that the proposed quarry will be on crown land (no overlap with the park), and that as owners of the property, 266531 B.C. Ltd has every legal right to develop the land. The provincial government states that they will not restrict or prohibit the quarry development.

      The proposal has created lasting tension due to the lack of communication between actors. I argue that the six-year debate has resulted in ineffective resource management. While quarry development inherently requires environmental degradation, the laws governing and regulating these activities are meant to minimize them. The company proposing development in the Fraser Valley has a reputation for following all environmental regulations. They have even performed beyond environmental regulations for river and site clean up in previous projects (FVRD, 2017). Local municipalities are not aware of these values held by the company, and there is growing resentment between the groups. A panel discussion between all actors should be organized in the future to clear up these miscommunications.

      Local authorities bring up valid areas of concern, however they fail to recognize the potential economic value of a quarry. 10-year development contract provides many opportunities for pre-development, extraction, and monitoring positions. The role of municipal government is to act in the best interest of their constituents. At present, the only parties that have voiced their opinions are environmental staff that work directly with the park. As such, I argue that cost-benefit analysis of the quarry should be completed so that all aspects of the project are considered. This would provide a more informed method of resource management, where the risks and rewards could be distributed more evenly across those involved.

      However, one point brought forward by Frieda Schade has great significance and should be considered by the provincial government. In Ontario, quarry development cannot proceed if a species at risk is identified prior to excavation. However, the province of British Columbia has not adopted similar legislation. A study conducted by the City of Abbotsford in 2010 identified 40 species at risk in the park (Britten, 2017). As such, I believe that more pressure should be put on the provincial government regarding this issue. If other provinces hold these strict regulations, then I believe that the provincial government should further consider this issue.

      The parkland is described as one of the last intact forested expanses in the area. As such, I believe that there are important discussions around this quarry proposal that must take place. Cooperative management and panels between the actors will help to facilitate dialogue and ensure that all concerns are being heard. With greater collaboration, actors will feel that their values are being considered and this will help foster positive long-term relationships between local and provincial governments and private corporations. When all parties are acting cooperatively, resource management is more effective and efficient.

 

References

Britten, L. (2017, September 11). Local governments say proposed quarry next to regional park could hurt environment, recreation. CBC. Retrieved October 1, 2017, from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/abbotsford-sumas-mountain-1.4284985

FVRD. (2017, July 26). FVRD Board Live Videos – Item 11.3. Retrieved October 01, 2017, from http://fvrdbc.swagit.com/play/07262017-1373

Ramirez, R., & Quarry, W. (2004). Communication for development: A medium for innovation in natural resource management.

Provincial Government of Ontario. (2014, September 15). Pits or quarries and endangered or threatened species. Regulation 242/08 (pits and quarries). Retrieved October 01, 2017, from https://www.ontario.ca/page/pits-or-quarries-and-endangered-or-threatened-species