UPDATE – November 4, 2022
My colleague Sonia Furstenau (MLA, Cowichan Valley) and I met with Minister of Environment and Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) officials on November 3, 2022 for an update.
We learned that a request has been made for an Environmental Assessment of the Bamberton Quarry project and the EAO is beginning that process.
Since I first published this information on October 19, 2022 I have asked a question in Question Period and delivered a Statement. The links to both are below.
If you wish to add your voice to the call for a full environmental assessment you can email the EAO and Minister of the Environment. View the contacts below.
Thank you for your participation!
Visit the BC Environmental Assessment Office project website EPIC here:
View my question to Minister of Environment, Hon. George Heyman here:
View my blog post about the Bamberton Quarry expansion application here:
View my statement here:
Submit your feedback to the Ministry of Mines here: SouthwestMinesDivision@gov.bc.ca
The health and wellbeing of the Saanich Inlet is personal. It has fed my family for countless generations. It continues to feed my family and will for generations to come. But, like so many bays, inlets, and fjords on the British Columbia coastline, the once glorious salmon fishery in the inlet was nearly extirpated, and shellfish harvesting areas perpetually closed. For most of the 20th century a cement plant covered the eastern slopes of the Malahat with ash, as the fishers trawled below the toxic stacks.
There are currently two applications for consideration by two separate provincial agencies.
Malahat Investment Corporation (MIC), owned by Malahat First Nation, is requesting an amendment to expand their quarry at Bamberton (Permit No. Q-8-24/Mine No. 0800407). The Ministry of Energy, Mines, and Low Carbon Innovation is receiving public comments until November 14, 2022.
MIC has also submitted an application to extend their aquatic Crown foreshore lease (Block A D.L. 30-G/Lands File No. 0336205) for another 30 years and to expand the footprint by approximately 25 acres. Unfortunately, the Ministry of Forests closed public comment on this application in September. I understand consultation and engagement with local First Nations is ongoing on this application.
The provincial Ministry of Energy and Mines approved a quarry on the 525-hectare site in 1991. The permit allows the operators to clear land, blast, crush, screen, and wash construction aggregate.
In 2015, Malahat First Nation purchased the property and MIC amended the original quarry permit twice in 2016. In 2019, they applied to further amend the permit.
The current proposal is to expand the quarry operation by 47% from 39.3 hectares to 57.6 hectares. They want to double production from 240,000 to 479,000 tonnes annually and increase the footprint of disturbed area to approximately 19.5 hectares. There is a 1.6 hectare reclaimed soil storage facility also on the site.
The project is slated to operate until 2039, however, in the next five years MIC plans to operate 300 days per year, 12 hours each day, blasting two or three times each month producing approximately 40,000 tonnes extracting a total of 2.13 million tonnes of material. No environmental assessment has been required as the proposed expansion does not meet the minimum requirements.
The Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation is currently reviewing the application. A decision will not be made by the statutory decision-maker until they have considered the technical reviews, First Nations consultation, responses from other government agencies and public comments.
Consultation with 11 First Nations is in progress. The province has a legal duty to consult First Nations on proposals that may impact Aboriginal rights or title.
The applicants published public notifications starting in September 2021 in the Goldstream Gazette and in the Cowichan Valley Citizen earlier this month. There has been no advertising on the Saanich Peninsula.
I am publishing this post to increase awareness of this application, as I have already received dozens of emails from concerned neighbours of the Bamberton site. Unfortunately, there is little public information available.
This operation has the potential of affecting everyone who lives on all sides of the Saanich Inlet. While I support Malahat’s right to the economic benefits of their lands, the scale and scope of the quarrying activity proposed is deeply troubling. At a minimum, this proposal should be required to have a full environmental assessment.
Without this, it is impossible for me to support a 20-year proposal that has such potentially irreversible impacts on sensitive ecosystems, food harvesting, and cultural sites.
I appreciate all of the residents in Saanich North and the Islands who have contacted me about this application. I will continue to meet with government Ministries, representatives of Malahat First Nation and residents. There are aspects of the public process in the Ministry of Energy, Mines, and Low Carbon Innovation, Ministry of Forests, and Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy that need to be improved to ensure the public understand what is being proposed and how it will impact them.
The current provincial government notification and consultation processes have fallen way short of the minimum standards needed to ensure public participation. I will advocate for the Ministry to update their processes to ensure transparency, accountability, and accessibility.
You can view all the documentation below. I recommend you provide your comment on the quarry application to SouthwestMinesDivision@gov.bc.ca. Please also copy Adam.Olsen.MLA@leg.bc.ca on your correspondence.
AMENDMENT TO EXISTING BC MINES ACT PERMIT Q-8-24
APPLICATION: AMENDMENT TO EXISTING BC MINES ACT PERMIT Q-8-24
BAMBERTON QUARRY PERMIT – APPROVING WORK SYSTEM AND RECLAMATION PROGRAM
Bamberton Quarry Fuel Management and Spill Contingencies
Bamberton Quarry Blasting Program
BAMBERTON QUARRY FIGS 1 TO 7 MAPS AND PLANS
BAMBERTON QUARRY FIGS 8 TO 14 CROSS SECTIONS
MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE AMENDMENT OF THE BLOCK A, D.L. 30-G AQUATIC CROWN FORESHORE LEASE
Adam. Thank you for bringing this to public attention and for all that you do to protect and restore Saanich Inlet. All the information available at present can be found on the Saanich Inlet Protection Society web site saanichinletprotection.org
This whole issue has been poorly handled by our government ministry’s. As someone who has dove the unique marine environment of Saanich inlet for over fifty years this could be the end of the inlet the way we know it. In particular the barging in of contaminated soil,storeing of contaminated soil ,and the processing of said sole will kill the whole marine ecosystem. How the ministry can think of allowing someone to have contaminated soil on land slopping down to the ocean is mind boggling. When it rains and the contamination is wash down the hill with the heavy metals and much more, say goodbye to the marine life. HOW STUPID CAN WE GET
Thank you, MLA Adam Olsen, for posting this information and giving your opinion and thoughts. We agree with you completely as we live at Willis Point and have done so for 44 years. We used to brag at how serene it is living here always stating we live in paradise. Now the air is full of dust, there are bright lights shining 24/7 and the blasting can be heard very clearly.
We truly hope the beautiful scenery and sensitive ecosystem of the Saanich Inlet will be saved.
Thank you for this update. I am not sure where you are in the process but would ask that you please seriously consider the following if you have not done so:
Formally apply to the Honourable George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy Chief Executive Assessment Officer Elenore Arend:
Request that the Minister designate the Malahat Investment Corporation’s (MIC) Bamberton Quarry Expansion Application (#0800407) and Aquatic Crown Foreshore Lease Expansion (Block A D.L. 30-G/Lands File No. 0336205) as a reviewable project, pursuant to s. 11 of the Environmental Assessment Act (EAA).
Request also that the Chief Executive Assessment Officer and the Minister take action to issue an order that the environmental assessment be conducted by an independent panel of experts in a process that includes public hearings pursuant to s. 24 of the EAA.
Thank you, I will be preparing a formal request myself and sharing this with others.
Well done, Adam.
Thank you Adam for the information, and what you are doing to address the serious impact of a possible Bamberton Quarry expansion and lack of an environmental assessment and public involvement.
My concern is for the marine life affected, particularly the salmon that spawn in Goldstream R., Coho, Chinook and Chum salmon. Our wild salmon on this coast are being pushed to near extinction by many forces, they should be spared this one.
Right now the fish are finally able to enter the stream as we finally get rain after the longest dry spell. It is a very public event, with many families, school children and others able to witness this dramatic natural event from Goldstream park. It is so important to protect and preserve this and also the important interpretive centre.
U Vic. has done important environmental research in Saanich Inlet also.
There are so many reasons and needs for an environmental assessment before this expansion could be approved.
This sure doesnt look like the Bamberton project falls anywhere close to the Indigenous folks mantra of “walk softly on the earth” but thank you Adam for picking up the torch in opposition to this completely ludacris project. kj