O.K. Industries is looking to build a quarry next to Capital Regional District land, of which the aquifer sits underneath. This map was taken from the 2015 report for the rezoning application. (Photo courtesy District of Highlands)

Highlands quarry proposal comes down to provincial approval

O.K. Industries feels demand is rock-solid reason for the project

Rick Stiebel/News Staff

The proponent for a quarry in the Highlands believes a growing demand for aggregate throughout the region and beyond is a rock-solid reason the project should go ahead.

Mel Sangha, general manager for O.K. Industries, said that although he understands that aggregate is not something the average person thinks about every day, gravel is an essential component for infrastructure and development, especially on southern Vancouver Island. “This location reduces the environmental impact of transporting aggregate locally compared to trucking it in from long distances,” he noted.

Before the company bought a 65-acre property in the Highlands in 2015, O.K. Industries spoke with Highlands District staff to clarify industrial and commercial uses considered for the property, which has been designated commercial/industrial for decades, Sangha said.

RELATED: Opposition to gravel quarry in Highlands gains traction

O.K. Industries is a local family-owned business that’s been in operation since the 1950s. The company has about 225 employees in locations in Victoria, Duncan, Parksville, Courtenay, Campbell River and Port Hardy involved in asphalt paving and aggregate crushing, as well as chip sealing throughout the province.

“We could have applied for a permit with the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources without even attempting to rezone,” Sangha explained. “If you’re going to be quarrying for years, we felt it was better to have a positive relationship out of the gate. The rezoning was rejected, even though the consultant hired by the District recommended rezoning with conditions.”

The quarry would involve about 60 per cent of the property for building sites and access roads, and the District would be able to decide on permitted uses once the work was completed, Sangha said. Initial discussions included the option of developing the site in phases as well, he added. “We wanted to work with the District on their final vision.”

RELATED: Highlands council remains united in opposition to proposed quarry

“We have addressed concerns brought to our attention through the ministry,” he said. “We have relied on third-party professionals, consultants and experts in their fields.” As a result of feedback from stakeholders, the company has substantially reduced the project’s footprint and reduced the timeline for quarrying from the original application of 25 to 30 years down to 16.

“The province controls the process,” Sangha said. “They are the decision-makers.”

A spokesperson or the Ministry of Energy Mines and Petroleum Resources said O.K. Industries application for a Mines Act permit is currently in review, and a date for a decision could not be provided at this time.

“The Ministry’s Statutory Decision-Makers consider and weigh all relevant information and perspectives in order to inform their decisions,” an email stated. “The Ministry is undertaking a thorough and comprehensive review based on input from the District of Highlands and other affected stakeholders and agencies.”

rick.stiebel@goldstreamgazette.com

Just Posted

Thief targets staff rooms at Victoria businesses

Surveillance shows man entering staff room where several items were reported stolen

Workers at auto dealerships in Nanaimo and Victoria set up picket lines

Sixty GAIN Group detailers, technicians, service advisors went on strike Friday

Sidney Capital Iron closes its doors in January

The store opened in 1988 and staff continue to search for a ‘suitable location’

Canada Post carrier seriously injured in Saanich dog attack

The employee was bitten on the hand and arm

COLUMN: We must preserve our biodiversity says Green MLA

Adam Olsen is MLA for Saanich North and the Islands

Investigators confirm three died in B.C. plane crash

Transport Canada provides information bulletin

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of Dec. 10

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you have a real or artificial Christmas tree?

The lights are up, holiday shoppers are bustling through the streets and… Continue reading

Prime Minister sets 2025 timeline for plan to remove fish farms from B.C. waters

Foes heartened by plan to transition aquaculture found in Fisheries minister mandate letter

Canada’s Attorney General looking to larger reforms on doctor-assisted death

The Quebec Superior Court gave Ottawa just six months — until March 2020 — to amend the law

Navigating ‘fever phobia’: B.C. doctor gives tips on when a sick kid should get to the ER

Any temperature above 38 C is considered a fever, but not all cases warrant a trip to the hospital

Wagon wheels can now be any size: B.C. community scraps 52 obsolete bylaws

They include an old bylaw regulating public morals

Indigenous mother wins $20,000 racial discrimination case against Vancouver police

Vancouver Police Board ordered to pay $20,000 and create Indigenous-sensitivity training

Most Read