Highlands Community Assocation to challenge rock quarry permit in B.C. Supreme Court

HIGHLANDS

HIGHLANDS -- A local community association is fighting to halt the development of an ecologically sensitive 64-acre property near the south entrance to the Highlands.

According to the Highlands District Community Association, the property has been subjected to tree clearing, land scraping, and blasting since a decision allowing the work was made last November in the B.C. Supreme Court. Now, the HDCA is set to present to the B.C. Court of Appeal in hopes of having the decision overturned.

Scott Richardson -- Chair of the Highlands District Community Association -- says the community isn't willing to tolerate any further damage to the 64-acre property.

"It will result in the biggest carbon impact probably since incorporation," said Richardson. "This isn't Langford, this is the Highlands. In the Highlands, we like to leave the trees standing."

Work done by the company "OK Industries" has taken place on about half of the property, all the way to its boundary with Thetis Lake Park.  Local residents have maintained a protest line at the Millstream Road entrance to the site, and the District of Highlands has itself taken separate legal action against the company to the B.C. Court of Appeal.

"The Millstream Creek is being prepared to carry Salmon, and the work makes it very difficult to prevent storm surges from contaminating the Millstream Creek." said Richardson.

While the HDCA’s judicial review case was argued on several grounds, the factum presented to the Court of Appeal states that only one issue is relevant to the appeal: “That the Statutory Decision Maker’s failure to consider climate change in his decision to grant the Permit made that decision unreasonable.”

Richardson says that of all the detrimental environmental and health and safety impacts of the mine in this residential community, the biggest and most worrying threat is to the groundwater on which Highlands’ residents rely for their drinking water.

"This is being done over our aquifer and we're a ground water dependent community." said Richardson. "Our aquifers are our number one priority -- so when this was proposed adjacent to sites with toxic dumps on them -- we were very concerned."

The Highlands District Community Association has been strongly and vocally opposed to this quarry since it was first proposed in 2016. A community petition against the original proposal was signed by more than 1,000 residents -- nearly half the municipality’s population of 2,200 -- and over 9,100 others have signed a Change.org petition calling for an end to the development.

The HDCA will be presenting its legal challenge at the B.C. Court of Appeal on Wednesday.

 

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