Buffer zones and proposed area of operation in a recent site map created by Westbrook Consulting Ltd. (Swikar Oli/ News staff)

Highlands group invites provincial leaders to a panel opposing local mining application

The public forum begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Highlands Community Hall, 729 Finlayson Arm Rd.

A local group is holding a question and answer panel for Highlands residents today about the proposed aggregate mining site on Millstream Road, near the district’s southern gate.

Premier John Horgan and Michelle Mungall Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum are among those invited, said Highland District Community Association chair Scott Richardson.

“We think it’ll be interesting to see if any of those parties show up more than their delegates. And it will be interesting to hear what they have to say,” he said.

ALSO READ: Highlands raise concerns over proposed quarry near subdivision

The group’s core concern is that the mining legislation in British Columbia is “extremely skewed towards land owners and miners,” he added.

The imbalance is such that a company can come into the Highlands, meet the technical requirements for putting a mine, then blast rock, “reading massive amounts of dust for… years,” without having to pass a public interest test, Richardson said.

A letter from the group addressed to the premier highlights the community’s opposition to the Mines Act Permit that O.K. Industries Ltd. submitted to the province for a 60-plus acre lot on Millstream.

“In June 2018, the HDCA hosted an open house to discuss the situation and the Community Hall was filled to capacity (in excess of 135 people),” the letter states.

ALSO READ: Association calling for more information on mine proposal

The ministry previously wrote in an email to Black Press that the permit is still being reviewed and added that O.K. Industries has been asked to present its updated plans in an open house next week.

“The ministry makes a serious effort to consider and weigh all relevant information and perspectives, and takes this application very seriously and is committed to conducting a thorough and comprehensive review based on input from the District of Highlands and other affected stakeholders and agencies,” they wrote. Further requests for comment were forwarded to Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources and has not been addressed by press time.

The minister would not attend the session tonight however, they replied.

“As the permit application is with the Statutory Decision Maker for consideration, it would be inappropriate for Minister Mungall to attend,” they wrote.

O.K. Industries was not invited to the open house, Richardson said, because “this is between us and the province.” The company will make a presentation on lengthy environmental reports they have commissioned at an open house next week.

ALSO READ: Highlands residents invited to view potential industrial site

Their latest proposals have made attempts at appeasing locals by increasing buffer zones around riparian areas and reducing their carbon footprint.

President Cory Sangha told Black Press previously that O.K. wants to make a deal that pleases the community and can still make a profit.

“Our family’s been here for 60 years. We’re not going anywhere, and I want to work with the community,” he said.

O.K. Industry hosts a public information session at the Highlands Community Hall, 729 Finlayson Arm Rd. on May 2, from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.

swikar.oli@goldstreamgazette.com


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