A plan to dig an extra 500,000 tonnes of rock out of a Coquitlam-area quarry has got neighbours concerned about the danger caused by more big trucks on a narrow road.
The Gilley’s Quarry expansion – which is subject to approval by the B.C. Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation – would take an “unsafe situation, and make it significantly worse,” according to neighbour Renato Spano, who spoke to Coquitlam council Monday.
Located between Pitt River and Pinecone Burke Provincial Park, Quarry Road is frequently the site of close-calls and near misses involving trucks and industrial equipment, Spano said.
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Heidelberg Materials, formerly Lehigh, is currently permitted to dig out 1,000,000 tonnes of quarried rock each year. Raising that threshold to 1,500,000 tonnes and expanding the quarry area by 11.58 hectares will intensify current problems, according to Spano.
“A narrow, winding gravel road cannot handle this kind of traffic,” he said, adding he was once nearly crushed when he was driving behind a truck that slid backwards.
Located on both private land and Crown Land, the quarry is essentially out of reach of the municipality. However, Spano urged Coquitlam council to exercise the municipality’s authority over the road.
The problem will become particularly acute as Coquitlam residents flock to nearby parks, he added.
“This is not just about a few families living at the end of a gravel road,” Spano said.
The city previously examined widening the road but found the job would be very costly, according to Coquitlam’s general manager of engineering and public works Jamie Boan.
Currently about 18 trucks travel the road to and from the quarry each day, in some cases to make gravel deliveries in the area.
In some cases, the trucks are loaded on the road – a practice that should stop immediately, according to Coun. Dennis Marsden.
“That’s putting human life at risk,” he said.
Marsden also suggested, “only partially facetiously,” that the city apply a financial disincentive.
“Perhaps we take a look at our fees and services bylaw and we come up and say: ‘If you’re going to use equipment like that on our road, it’s a $1-million per minute fee,” Marsden said.
A lot of the problems would be solved if the gravel was barged out rather than trucked out, noted Mayor Richard Stewart.
Stewart suggested the province might insist on barging.
According to the company’s estimate, about 90 percent of gravel is barged out while another 10 percent is transported by truck.
At the current pace, the quarry will be hollowed out in less than three years. However, the expansion would allow for the extraction of about 13.6 million tonnes of rock, according to Heidelberg Materials’ application to the province.
The expansion expand the quarry into what is now a forested area.
The multinational company is also applying for permission to wash rock on site, creating settling ponds from the quarry floor.
The quarry produces, drain rock, riprap and road base aggregates, according to the company’s application.