Howe Sound gravel quarry approved

Burnco project in Howe Sound approved with consent of Squamish First Nation

A rendering of Burnco's proposed aggregate mine site in Howe Sound | SUBMITTED

A sand and gravel quarry in Howe Sound has been approved by the provincial government, a year and a half after it entered the environmental review process.

B.C. Environment Minister George Heyman and Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Minister have jointly granted an environmental certificate to Calgary’s Burnco Rock Products Ltd. to build a gravel and quarry on the north shore of Howe Sound. The project entered a joint provincial-federal environment review in September 2016.

The certificate comes with 25 conditions, including requirements for a fish habitat and management plan.

Burnco proposes to extract 1.5 million tonnes of aggregate per year over a 16-year period. The project includes the construction of a marine barge dock.

In addition to conditions set by the provincial government, Burnco also had to satisfy concerns of the Squamish First Nation, which has an agreement with Burnco.

It’s not the First time the Squamish have inked agreements with resource developers after undertaking their own environmental assessments.

Woodfibre LNG and FortisBC also agreed to 25 conditions set out by the Squamish, as a result of their own environmental review, for a liquefied natural gas project.

Gravel extraction from streams often raises concerns about impacts on fish, since salmon spawn in gravel beds.

In Burnco’s case, the big concern is the impacts gravel extraction will have on McNab Creek. See BIV story for background.

The provincial government is satisfied the project can go forward without significant environmental impacts, however.

“Having considered the Environmental Assessment Office's (EAO) Assessment report and the recommendation of the executive director of the EAO to issue a certificate, the ministers are confident that the project will be constructed, operated and closed in a way that ensures that no significant adverse effects are likely to occur,” the provincial government stated in a press release.

The project is estimated to cost $21 million and employ 40 full-time equivalent jobs over a two-year construction period. Once in operation, the quarry would employ roughly 14 workers.