Council continues battle over Parkhurst gravel pit By Andy Stonehouse Local leaders are hoping a new bylaw and some co-operation on the part of the Ministry of Energy and Mines will help prevent the construction of a new, highly visible gravel pit in the Parkhurst area. At their last meeting, council gave initial approval to an official community plan amendment which would limit local gravel extraction operations to two pits, Sabre's operation at the landfill site and the Twin River pit at Cougar Mountain. Under the new rules, gravel pit owners will be required to follow tightened regulations regarding dust control, noise limitations and operating hours. They will also be required to pay the municipality 50 cents for every cubic metre of soil or rock removed from the pit, with funds going to offset road damage caused by heavy truck traffic. The new rules are set to come into effect on Jan. 1, 1999 and carry a $2,000 per day fine for those who violate the law. Staff have suggested that the two active gravel pits be given until Sept. 30 of this year to comply with the new bylaw. Brian Barnett, chief engineer for the municipality, said the proponent of the Parkhurst pit, Appia Developments, is continuing to press the mines ministry for approval of the project, located just south of the heliport. And while council has continued to state their opposition to the plans, the ministry has drafted a permit for the operations. Staff have also met with the Ministry of Transportation and Highways and the Ministry of Forests to merge access to the 16 Mile Creek forestry road and the new pit, reducing visibility of the pit from the highway. As Barnett said in his report to council, despite local objections to the request for the new gravel pit, the Mines Act doesn't take local land use zoning into consideration and ministry officials may still simply rubber-stamp the application. Councillor Kristi Wells said she's disappointed that the mines ministry could be forced to approve the project, against the wishes of locals. "I'm also disappointed with the applicant — there will be a definite reaction from the community," she said. "It's unfortunate that they're choosing to go this route and with this antagonism." John Nelson, director of public works, said Appia has told the municipality that they plan to eventually process gravel on the site, and seem to anticipate a successful rezoning application to that effect. Councillor Ken Melamed said he wondered why the new gravel pit was even required and if the project was being done for economic reasons. Barnett said the developers explained that the application was for a very large site and would provide much better quality gravel and rock for road projects than the basalt currently turned into gravel at existing pits.