Wednesday, June 13, 2012

 

Gravel Grapes

What Is The APP?

FVRD Director Area C Bales explains the Aggregate Pilot Project

Released by Wendy Bales, FVRD Dir Area C

 

n the Fraser Valley if you were to ask on the street what the APP is people would probably say something like; the APP is a software application for mobile devices.
If you were to elaborate and ask; Do you know what the Aggregate Pilot Project (APP) is?

 

Very few would know what it is and fewer still would know any of the details. So why is that?

The APP has been worked on for over 8 years, costing a considerable amount to fund, so it is surprising how few residents of the Fraser Valley know anything about the APP. Or is it?

The tri-party committee chaired by 2 different provincial ministers (currently MLA Randy Hawes) as a closed door committee also consists of the Fraser Valley Regional District Directors (FVRD) with their planners, and the Aggregate Producers Association of BC (APABC).

Often present for input were representatives of the Ministry of Mines, Energy and Petroleum Resources (MEMPR) as well. Most of the planning to secure a 50 to a 100 years of aggregate supply while trying to reducing mining conflicts have been in closed door meetings with only one special interest group, (the APABC) represented.

In the fall of 2010 the FVRD held 4 APP community meetings with the 2009 version draft and mapping (which the public will now need updating on as well as clarification of details).Before those meetings I asked for a mail-out. At and after the 2010 meetings many people were angry that there was not sufficient notice and a mail-out for such an important issue.

In fact I believe that many of the people who came were more of a result of my emailing list, networking and the ACES community group that did a limited flier mail-out for area C. That was a big contention and so eventually after a lot of complaints from electoral area residents and discussion, it was decided by electoral area Directors and staff that each electoral area would have their own mail-out budget.

 

At the time there were no qualifications as to what issues each Director was allowed to use their mail-out budget for, and I have used the budget without extra Board permission for 2 mail-outs so far since.

There is an important APP meeting planned for the evening of June 26th 2012 at the Evergreen Hall in Chilliwack B.C. Even though the mail-out budget was a result of the APP issue, I am now being told that I would need to have special Board permission to do a mail-out for what could be the only APP meeting before an FVRD Board vote on accepting the APP mapping and general plan. Although I asked to do the mail-out on May the 28th., I had to wait for over a week for a decision. Waiting for Board permission to do a mail-out would of course make it too late to be of use. The delay will make it hard to raise community funds in time for an effective mail-out. For an issues that can effect Fraser valley watersheds for a 100 years, it is vital that as many people as possible are made aware. For more info check the FVRD link posted.

Here is some of what they say on the FVRD website;

www.fvrd.bc.ca/InsidetheFVRD/CommunityPlanning/Pages/APP.aspx
 

The FVRD Aggregate Pilot Project (APP) was initiated by the Minister of State for Mines in 2004 in response to persistent and intense conflicts surrounding aggregate operations in the Fraser Valley Regional District.

The purpose of the project is to develop a set of recommendations to industry, local governments and the provincial government for new approaches that significantly reduce conflicts and secure a long term, economic, stable supply.

More specifically, it aims to:

  • improve understanding of aggregate supply and demand;

  • foster better communication between MEMPR, FVRD and industry;

  • implement a "RED-YELLOW-GREEN" approach to permitting aggregate operations, including identifying lands suitable for aggregate uses and lands not suitable for aggregate uses;

  • ensure a sustainable supply of aggregate for the long term;

  • develop a new approach for decision-making respecting aggregate management; and,

  • provide a model that could be used in other jurisdictions in the Province.

The APP or the Mining Act could have a profound effect on massive areas of FVRD watersheds. As stated by the committee the APP plan could spread to other regions of B.C.. As well I believe that whether by the APP or the Mining Act, mining will have a huge impact on the cost, control and supply of available potable water in B.C. and yet there is no adequate 50 to a 100
year water plan for the same areas of the FVRD.

Water is much more valuable then gravel as a commodity and as a necessity that should be protected. Under the Water Act you would not generally be allowed to sow up or alter large areas of crown watersheds, but under the Mining Act there are
exemptions to the Water Act. Under the Mining Act you can extract nonrenewable resources destroying watercourses, while controlling much of the watersheds with long term permits. If the APP goes through, even having a yellow zone will be like an extra secondary endorsement that it could be a possible gravel area. See updated mapping proposed in this link below. Keep
in mind that at the last area C meeting area residents unanimously agreed to opt out of the APP agreement as MLA Hawes said that we could;

www.fvrd.bc.ca/InsidetheFVRD/CommunityPlanning/Pages/APP.aspx

After MEMPR permits are given to the mining industry even if the FVRD can set limits for yearly extraction through bylaws, a MEMPR permit holder will still be sitting on and have a controlling interest on a watershed as long as the permit lasts which are most often extended for long periods. They can then strip the land of trees and divert water, even if there are limits on the extraction amounts. How do I know that? It is happening in my own area's watershed and there has been little to no regulating or enforcing of permit clauses, zoning or bylaws enforced.

After years of dealing with mining violations and watershed destruction, I am still of the opinion that the only way to protect our watersheds and communities rights are through amendments to the Mining Act as well as the Water Act. The Water Act with proper amendments should be the most important and prevailing Act. Meaningful sustainable limits and cumulative impacts on the current Mining Act permits are not being properly regulated or enforce.

I think that it is unrealistic to think that even with tonnage fees that the FVRD would be able to manage the regulating and enforcing of gravel mines on behalf of residents and other interests. They are not even allowed to trespass on mine permit property without permission of the permit holder, or
accompanied by MEMPR, or DFO (without permission of the permit holder).

The gag order on the APP committee meetings has left other watershed users, and communities at a huge information disadvantage, so please help spread the word about this very important meeting June 26th, @7 pm, at the Evergreen Hall 9291 Corbould street in Chilliwack to all residents of the FVRD. The public will need to get informed on what took the committee over 8 years. Then, you can either submit letters the day before or ask questions and then make comments at the meeting. I will also write more details and some history soon.

 

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