Proposed gravel pit near Kelowna gets unanimous thumbs down from regional district directors | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Proposed gravel pit near Kelowna gets unanimous thumbs down from regional district directors

FILE PHOTO - An excavator is seen at a Kelowna construction site in this undated file photo.
June 10, 2021 - 2:30 PM

Central Okanagan regional district politicians have slammed a proposed gravel pit in the Joe Rich area, east of Kelowna.

But despite the fact that the Regional District of the Central Okanagan directors unanimously opposed the application for the gravel mine at its board meeting today, June 10, they can’t do anything to stop it.

That decision will be made by the Ministry of Mines.

“If they care enough about our community and the voice of our community and they’re really listening, then we’ll be able to find another place for this,” Mark Bartyik, the director for the Joe Rich area and a resident there, said. “This is just a plain bad idea. This is just an application out of convenience.”

The proposed mine would crush rock and gravel from about 48 acres of a 75-acre piece of residential land bordering Highway 33 just east of the hairpin corner at Daves Creek.

This is the gravel pit site in relation to the Black Mountain Irrigation District's water intake.
This is the gravel pit site in relation to the Black Mountain Irrigation District's water intake.
Image Credit: Submitted/Black Mountain Irrigation District

The applicant, Joe Rich Properties Ltd., said there is a growing need for gravel in the region and this site makes it much cheaper to deliver because it’s only about 15 minutes from the construction site for the new Costco location in Kelowna.

But, regional district staff said, there is plenty of similar bedrock material reaching all the way out to Big White so there is no shortage of supply, just nothing so close to the city.

The application is opposed by the Black Mountain Irrigation District, which has its water intake and treatment plant on Mission Creek below the site, and most other referral agencies and local residents.

READ MORE: This proposed gravel pit could have huge impacts on Kelowna, both good and bad

The applicant company is part of Westridge, which has a number of other gravel pits in the Vernon and Kelowna areas.

An agent for the company told the board that the mine’s proximity to Kelowna and the fact that it’s downhill all the way means it will reduce fuel consumption for gravel delivery by about 333,000 lites a year and cut 8,750 hours of truck traffic off city streets.

But directors argued it was in the wrong location on very unstable slopes.

Lake Country Mayor James Baker pointed out that numerous past geotechnical reports found the steep slope where the mine is proposed is “extremely fractured and fragile” rock.

“Everybody is on wells and if everybody uses their washing machine on Saturday, Daves Creek runs dry because they’ve sucked all the water out of it,” he said. “There’s no aquifers there with a very unstable geologic aspect.”

In fact, there is no available water in the area so Westridge would have to haul water in for dust control.

There are also major concerns about traffic impact with Bartyik estimating there would be 14 trucks an hour using the Daves Road access.

Even the agent for the applicant said they are trying to get access from a straight stretch further east on Highway 33 but the Ministry of Highways is opposed.

The board is recommending the application be rejected by the province and will list the reasons for that opposition but in the end it will be up to the province to decide.

A public meeting will likely be held before that application is considered.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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