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