Logging expected to start by month's end at planned Highlands quarry

OK Industries hopes to start logging by the end of this month to create road access into its controversial planned quarry in the Highlands.

The timeline depends on when its contractor, currently working in another location, is available, Mel Sangha, general manager for OK Industries, said Monday.

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Logging would be carried out on the access road to the site and on a portion of the new quarry referred to as Phase One, Sangha said.

The Victoria company on Friday received the green light from the B.C. Supreme Court to go ahead with site preparation on its property off Millstream Road.

OK Industries received a mining permit in March from the province of B.C.

That decision prompted the Highlands District Community Association to initiate a lawsuit seeking a judicial review of the province’s decision. The hearing is slated for Oct. 19 to 22 in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver.

The association had sought a temporary injunction to halt road access work prior to the October hearing.

Friday’s court decision said the company would “suffer irreparable harm” if it could not carry out site preparation before its planned mining activity in May 2021.

The company maintains that the province has jurisdiction in the matter of a mining permit, while the community association believes that falls within municipal responsibility.

The two sides disagree on the impact to the area’s aquifer.

The association fears that the quarry will have negative impacts on the aquifer and is concerned that the project will bring noise and dust to the area. Residents rely on the aquifer for drinking water.

Professionals hired by the company determined there was either no or low risk to the aquifer.

“Wherever there is a risk, we’ve been obligated to manage it by the terms and conditions of our permit,” Sangha said.

He said it would be costly to postpone logging work because certain required reviews, such as a birds’ nest survey and a study of amphibians, must be carried out on a seasonal basis on the privately owned land. A delay could push the project back a year.

The nest survey has been completed. The amphibian study is to be done after the logging.

Sangha said aggregate provided by the company is supplied to customers that include local municipalities.

cjwilson@timescolonist.com

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