Public input invited on gravel mart

Double remediation security creates hardship for family

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Salt Spring residents are being invited to give their input on a temporary use permit application that would allow on-site processing and sale of material mined from the Burgoyne Valley.

The Salt Spring Local Trust Committee will consider the Forsyth Farms Gravel Market application at their July 23 meeting. Members of the public are invited to speak to the proposal during the noon town hall session.

The Forsyths received their provincial permit to extract material from their land from the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources in January of 2017. The family was not aware their business would also require permits from the Salt Spring Local Trust Committee. The first step was getting a soil removal and deposit permit, which the LTC conditionally approved last December. The next step is to permit mechanical screening and sales.

Business owner Michele Forsyth told the Driftwood the situation has been hard on the family, since they feel the community might not understand the mine itself is legal. There is also a financial burden in becoming compliant with Islands Trust bylaws.

“It’s devastating, it’s stressful. It’s causing problems at home,” Forsyth said.

Future treatment of the land, which is part of the Agricultural Land Reserve, is a major issue for the family. Their mining permit included providing a security of $12,500 for future site remediation. Another $11,000 for remediation was ordered by the LTC as a condition of the soil removal and deposit permit, based on the property size in the mine permit.

“We don’t have a ton of time left,” Forsyth said about the mine’s available material. “It’s just a small area and once it’s done we’ll probably turn it back to alfalfa or hay.”

With a July 15 payment deadline coming up, the owners have so far not succeeded in getting the Trust office to drop the cost to reflect the smaller size of the property where disturbance is actually taking place.

“I’m trying my best to figure out how to get some money together,” said Forsyth, who has a lawyer looking at the case. “We’ve already paid $12,500 to the ministry, so why do we have to pay again?”

Islands Trust regional planning manager Stefan Cermak explained Salt Spring’s soil removal and deposit permit is administered according to a bylaw, which is not discretionary, and which was approved by the Ministry of Mines before it was established.

“The Mining Act allows the province of British Columbia to issue mining permits, but that doesn’t make people exempt from local bylaws. The act allows for establishing layers of security for protection of the land,” Cermak said. “Our soil removal and deposit bylaw states that if you get a permit, you are required to supply a security.”

Cermak added the Forsyths are required to get a TUP for the other parts of their business because the soil removal and deposit permit only addresses those specific activities. The crushing and processing of material, and the setting up of a commercial outlet, are land use concerns that require planning.

“If you want to sell the material on your property, then you have to work with your local government agency,” Cermak said.

For more on this story, see the July 10, 2019 issue of the Gulf Islands Driftwood newspaper, or subscribe online.

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