Quarries Make Noisy Neighbours

“I would be a little choked if a quarry was operating in the subdivision where I lived,” said Fraser.

November 29, 2014

I understand completely why many people living on Salt Spring Island, BC– where I lived for 16 years– get queasy about development and the noise and pollution that comes with it. The stunning natural beauty of the place is something that is worth saving. Yet when people want dream homes on the island then constructing them can mean raping the land to a greater or lesser degree.

This situation is the same on most of the Gulf Islands as well as in many other paradises on earth. I remember a Cortez Island resident discussing the absurd side of the situation. She said everyone wants development when they land on the island but, immediately after that, they want to ‘pull up the draw bridge’.

Here is an article that I wrote which tackles some of these issues:

Salt Spring Village Views

March 12, 2004

Quarries Make Noisy Neighbours

by Tanya Lester

You never know who your Salt Spring neighbour might be. It could be someone living in a tent, a rock star living in a rammed earth dwelling or an internationally acclaimed wildlife artist.

Imagine Rosey Brenan’s dismay when she realized her neighbour was a granite rock quarry owned by a man involved in selling her the property she now resides on.

Noise from the quarry in the Jasper Road area development above Stewart Road often begins at 6:30 a.m. “My mornings are rugged,” said Brenan, who suffers from leukemia. Fully loaded gravel trucks often run back and forth all day, seven days a week.

The noisy, dusty quarry’s existence is incongruent with the developers’ own rules. Those who purchased lots had to sign a prospectus that denies them the right to have a home business or build a guest cottage on their property. Even hanging out a clothesline is not allowed.

Larry Bader, who owns the quarry across from Brenan’s home, has made application to operate another quarry down the hill off Stewart Road near Peter Arnell Park. According to Brenan, it is highly unusual for quarries to exist in residential areas or next to parks, especially when unregulated. To date, neither Islands Trust nor the Ministry of Energy and Mines have been able to make Bader adhere to regulations that would address area residents’ concerns.

Brenan said she and her neighbours — one hundred residents who formed the Stewart Road Residents Association (SRRA) — have many concerns. Besides the noise, they question the impact blasting granite rock could have on drinking water. They worry about their children waiting for school buses and swimming at Cusheon Lake with trucks going back and forth over narrow gravel roads.

They wonder about run-off pollution entering the water system. They ask how rock blasting of hillsides will affect “the special place” they live in. (Brenan even has sympathy for those who wish the natural setting had never been developed.)

Peter Lamb, of the Salt Spring Conservancy, echoes similar environmental and safety concerns for hikers at Peter Arnell Park and area residents. He added that reclamation work for any damage done to the natural setting should also be part of the mandate.

Brenan also feels a sense of betrayal from those who sold the property to her and her partner Arnold Brown in 1999.

The sales pitch included reference to the bird’s eye view they would have of wildlife artist Robert Bateman’s property. The could wondered about the development’s noisy quarry, but they were assured it would close once the roads were gravelled and sub-division of the lots was completed.

They were the first to buy a lot in the development and were looking forward to serenity in semi-retirement after selling their North Vancouver home.

Then, in spring of 2003, Bader, a director for one of the companies that owned the development, bought Lot 22 across the road from Brenan’s property. When they heard blasting and drilling, they thought Bader was building a house. (He actually lives on Channel Ridge.) Then they noticed a rock crusher.

Following this, in August, they spotted a Driftwood newspaper advertisement. Salt Spring Rock Products Ltd. (owned by Bader) was making application to establish a rock quarry.

Since then, the SRRA has spearheaded petitions, letter writing, regularly attended Islands Trust meetings, and met with Ministry of Energy and Mines officials.

To date, the Islands Trust request for Bader to discontinue his quarry operation on Lot 22 has gone unheeded. Brenan hopes a bylaw similar to one referred to as Metchosin’s Bylaw 402 will be passed by the Islands Trust Council when they meet this week, March 10 – 12 th, on Hornby Island. (Metchosin’s Bylaw 402 was formulated after a court case in which is was ruled that regulations for commerical soil rock removal should be legislated.)

Salt Spring Island trustee Kimberly Lineger put forward a motion last December that a soil removal template bylaw be created by the Trust. The bylaw then could be adapted for use by any of the Gulf Islands under Trust jurisdiction. “We hope it will have teeth in it,” Brenan said. “If you don’t have rules and regulations, you have anarchy.”

The Ministry of Energy and Mines is responsible for Bader’s quarry application to operate near Peter Arnell Park. To date a license has not bee issued, as Bader has not adhered to requests concerning quarry impact on the environment. These include an examination of how noise and dust will affect the area, and how water flow and quality will be affected.

Brenan knows some islanders believe that employment on the island is needed and that Bader should be able to contibute to the economy. She believes, however, that the one existing quarry operation, Hawthorne Hill Gravel Sales, can handle Salt Spring’s requirements.

Jason Fraser, who owns Hawthorne Hill Gravel Sales, has nothing against competition but agrees that he is not currently “swamped” with business. His residential neighbours are quite a distance from his quarry and Fraser’s noise level is well below the Islands Trust maximum regulation level.

“I would be a little choked if a quarry was operating in the subdivision where I lived,” said Fraser. He pointed out that sound travels upwards making things even more intolerable for the Jasper Road residents.

Bader was not available for comment.




To read the early posts in this blog, please go to writingsmall.wordpress.com

Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader by Tanya is available for purchase from the author or go to the title and author name, to read the first few pages and buy the book, at amazon.com

Tanya Lester’s other books are Friends I Never Knew, Dreams & Tricksters and Women Rights/Writes.  They are available in some library systems and at the Legislative Library of Manitoba.


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