A proposed rock quarry in a rural community near Kelowna is being opposed by area residents.
This week, residents of the Joe Rich community have been hosting informal “information sessions” regarding the quarry proposal off Highway 33.
The quarry, say the opposed residents, will not only create traffic problems, but also environmental concerns, stating the site isn’t far from Mission Creek.
“They haven’t contacted any of the community members,” Joe Rich resident Kristy Rempel told Global News.
“The quarry that’s going in is beside a lot of residents. It’s a 75-acre proposal and they want to blast rocks and crush rocks for the next 40 years.”
According to Westridge, there’s a growing demand for quality, crushed aggregates.
In fact, Westridge has released a 14-page information package that can be viewed here.
Stating it purchased the site in December 2020, Westridge said “the quarry is on undeveloped land, adjacent to a major highway, easily accessible, near to market, in a rural area, out of sight, and holds quality rock resource; an optimal location.
“The objective of the Joe Rich quarry is to provide the Central Okanagan communities with quality aggregate, at a lower economical, social and environmental cost than the current market has to offer.”
The quarry, though, not only faces opposition from some area residents, but also the Black Mountain Irrigation District (BMID).
In a letter to the Ministry of Mines that can be viewed here, BMID said its water treatment plant facilities are located downslope from the site – around 130 metres below and 500 metres to the south along Mission Creek.
BMID said, “the quarry is proposed above sensitive silt bluff slopes in the Mission Creek canyon corridor.”
It also said “BMID can appreciate the need in our region for high-quality aggregate. We can also appreciate the amount of work needed to set up, develop and operate a quarry operation.
“We are strongly opposed to the development of this site due to the location and proximity to our community water supply system.”
BMID said not far from the proposed site are unstable silt slopes, and that “there have been numerous slope failures that have affected BMID water supply in the past century.”
The province’s Ministry of Energy and Mines will have the final say on whether the project gets the green light. However, the proposed quarry will still be discussed locally.
The Regional District of the Central Okanagan says it will be discussing the quarry at its board meeting on June 10.
The RDCO says while the province will have the final say, its decision will provide input to the ministry.
Notably, the regional district says that June 10 board meeting will be closed to the public, but that those either for or against the quarry can make their thoughts known to the ministry, the applicant and the RDCO.
Global News has reached out to Westridge.
Rempel said she’s lived in Joe Rich for the past four years, noting there have been washouts in the area recently.
“If you start blasting rocks, you can’t tell me that on an unstable mountainside that’s going to help,” said Rempel, who lives one kilometre from the proposed site.
“I’m not against industry; I don’t think anyone out here is. It’s just the location. They need to find a better location for this.”