A gravel pit in the middle of West Kelowna is for use by another city | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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A gravel pit in the middle of West Kelowna is for use by another city

May 24, 2021 - 3:00 PM

The continual racket of gravel trucks rumbling by ensures residents of one West Kelowna neighbourhood are keenly aware of an industrial operation that bears another city’s name.

But for most Kelowna residents it’s an unknown entity, saving their tax dollars year after year.

The City of Kelowna has owned a 10-hectare gravel pit on Westlake Road since the 1960s,  long before West Kelowna was thrust into existence. Yearly, it produces 80,000 metric tonnes of various gravel products, solely for the use of Kelowna city projects, Stephen Bryans, the City of Kelowna’s Roadways operations supervisor, said.

“The city purchased that property sometime in the mid-1960s but started mining it probably around 1999 and it’s grown from there,” Bryans said. “We have a couple of employees that work out of there permanently, we have the machinery and screening plants and everything we need to produce aggregate for the City of Kelowna.”

All the materials mined from the pit go to maintenance or capital projects, “exclusively for the citizens of Kelowna.”

A city that owns a gravel pit is a bit of an oddity, but Bryans explained it’s been a solid investment and it’s allowed the city to save cash for residents.

“There’s a huge advantage of this to the taxpayers of Kelowna … a lot of gravel pits are being used up over time, running out of material,” he said, noting that drives up prices.

“We try to preserve it for Kelowna residents.”

He also pointed out that it lessens the carbon footprint to have a source for the gravel needed to fulfill the city’s needs for things like road sanding, bedding utility pipes, building roads and sidewalks and anything to do with municipal infrastructure.

Area residents have, at times, made complaints about the gravel pit, but Bryans said they’ve done a fair bit of work to reduce conflict in the area, through landscaping and dust-minimizing efforts.

And, West Kelowna gets a hefty amount of tax on the property. Bryans said it’s believed to be more than $75,000 a year. When asked to comment on the mine, the City of West Kelowna declined, saying it was a Kelowna and Ministry of Mines issue.

Regardless, it’s going to be around for a while.

“If we continue to mine it the way we want to mine, it will have 40 years of life in it,” Bryans said.

Once it’s been drained of all it has to offer, the city will be responsible under the Mine’s Act to restore it to what it once was or another use that the province approves of.

So, while the “two-man show” is not much to look at, the pit does serve a purpose to both West Kelowna and Kelowna. Also, it’s home to two unusual figures — remnants of the old Flintstone village call it home.

A Pooh bear and an elephant from the old amusement park add the colour of what’s an otherwise pretty dry and dusty environment.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 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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