VERNON - A resident’s attempt to build a gravel pit on the outskirts of the City of Vernon has revealed concerning flaws in the application process, says a North Okanagan politician.
Not for the applicant, but for people in the community affected by the potential noise, dust and economic impact of the gravel pit itself. Area C BX-Silver Star director Mike Macnabb led a motion for the North Okanagan Regional District not to support sending an application to the Agricultural Land Commission to allow a gravel pit on Brentwood Road, in the electoral area he represents.
The application, brought forward by Klayton Mertion, owner of Mertion Excavating, was ultimately opposed by the regional district board, but not before it heard a presentation from one of its own directors.
“It was important that all of the board members were made aware of both sides of the story,” Macnabb says.
“The applicant had every right to come and present as a delegation whereas the public couldn’t. They could only do so through petitioning.”
Macnabb detailed many concerns with the project, including dust, noise, damage to roads, and negative affects on property values in the area. He says a citizen driven campaign collected over 1,100 signatures.
“There are five apple orchards within less than half a kilometre of the area. The applicant didn’t have any water on site so the dust would be an issue; if it gets on the fruit it’s problematic,” he says.
He adds studies have shown property values can plummet 30 per cent for real estate located near gravel pits.
“There are almost 500 properties within a one kilometre radius,” Macnabb says. “I thought it was unfair to (the community) when only one resident benefits and all the others would lose.”
He says the pit would also tarnish the views of the Ribbons of Green trails system.
An agronomist’s report funded by Mertion said the project could benefit agriculture by increasing arable land once the site is reclaimed, and a geotechnical report stated there would be no impact on nearby residents if proper measures were taken, but it wasn’t convincing Macnabb.
“I do have some sympathy for the applicant... but there’s other paces gravel extraction can take place without that negative impact to surrounding properties,” he says.
Two bylaws are in the works to regulate the application process in these situations, and Macnabb believes they’re a step in the right direction.
“It would be fully exposed all the way along and the public would get the chance to give input,” Macnabb says.
Attempts to reach Klayton Mertion for an interview were unsuccessful.
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