Postill Lake gravel pit application runs into roadblock

After 10 years of reclamation work on a gravel pit near UBC Okanagan, a local company is looking at a new site in the Postill Lake area.

Despite an elaborate application, the pit did not gain support from the Regional District of Central Okanagan as they wait for the regional aggregate study to be completed.

CORD planner Ron Fralick said the application before the province is for the development of a sand and gravel quarry on approximately five hectares of Crown land.

The site lies above Kelowna Creek, known as Mill Creek where it travels through the city.

“Visual impacts from this relatively small gravel pit should be minimal due to the remote location and elevation,” Fralick said.

With a five-year lifespan, the pit would produce an estimated 120,000 cubic metres of sand and gravel per year.

He noted the majority of issues raised centre on protection of the watershed.

The creek lies in a deep canyon to the south of the site, on the opposite side of the road.

Fralick said another issue involves potential safety problems as well as upkeep and maintenance of the forest road.

He added the B.C. Ministry of Transportation is reviewing the level of road maintenance and the need for signs related to the gravel pit.

Andy Miller, of Glen-Am Sand and Gravel, said the company currently runs a gravel pit on UBC Okanagan property. That operation is set to expire at the end of April.

Miller said the work on UBC land was started 10 years ago to reclaim the pit, which was abandoned in 1995 without reclamation measures.

He noted the company works under guidelines and has had strong recommendations on its practices. “We like to think we run a good clean operation.”

Miller noted the B.C. Ministry of Forests has done a major road upgrade on the Postill Lake road from kilometre two to km four. The entrance to the proposed pit is around km eight.

He said the road is quite wide at the driveway entrance. Existing drainage installed in the road near the driveway drains into the forest.

Miller noted the natural slope of the entire area runs to the northwest, away from the road.

The plan for the pit includes an animal corridor that would be preserved for moose and deer to travel through.

“We’ve gone to great lengths for there to be as little environmental impact as possible,” Miller said.

Hauling from the site would be restricted to five days per week. Miller’s company supplies to general contractors, landscapers and homeowners, as well as crushed gravel to smaller paving companies.

He said the site was logged about 30 years ago, and is now covered with thick pine growth and deadfall.

The company dug down about five metres and found moist gravel, but no sign of flowing water.

Dust control at the pit would be done with water, and he noted irrigation details are still under discussion.

Much of the processing would be done at an existing gravel pit. The company would be looking at five truck trips per day on a steady basis, five days a week.

Frequency of trips would depend on road conditions, and Miller added they do not intend to work through the winter.

Once the pit is developed in a year, and depending on the market, he said they may progress to 10 hauling trips a day.

Miller said the company intends to possibly expand the pit another five hectares eventually, and may try another application in about three years time.

Board chairman Robert Hobson said that in this case, the move not to support the pit was not about the specific application, but that CORD wants the aggregate plan to be completed first.

Hobson later noted he was encouraged by Glen-Am’s move to work away from the creek, and their willingness to upgrade the road.

The motion to not support the application was carried, with directors Doug Findlater and Graeme James opposed.

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