The group pushing for an environmental review of expansion plans for the Bamberton aggregate quarry is questioning the timing of the sale of Coast Mountain Resources — the company that has been operating the quarry — to California-based Granite.
In a statement provided to the Times Colonist, the Saanich Inlet Protection Society notes that the fate of the quarry expansion project is still unknown
“We assume one of [Granite’s lawyers’] tasks would have been to ensure that all permits related to the Bamberton operations and facility are in order. Despite all these uncertainties, [Granite’s] lawyers were able to complete their due diligence and recommend the acquisition go ahead.
“Unless they were provided with that certainty it would seem to [Saanich Inlet Protection Society] that it would have been prudent to wait until the permits were in fact secure,” the statement said.
The society had applied to have an environmental review of the project, citing the potential impact of the Malahat First Nation’s plans to increase the size and production of the existing quarry, extend its dock on the Saanich Inlet and expand a soil deposit site.
The society says it has scientific information that suggests a danger of contamination if the quarry is expanded.
Coast Mountain Resources is a division of Vancouver-based Hall Constructors, which said it had been working with Granite since December 2022 on the due diligence process.
Hall said it was selling in order to focus on its core business of civil infrastructure like roads and bridges.
In a statement sent to the Times Colonist, the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation said the ministry has not met with any operator other than Coast Mountain Resources for the Bamberton site, and Coast Mountain continues to be the key contact.
It also noted that for the purposes of the permit application under review — the quarry expansion — the proponent for the application remains Malahat Investment Corporation.
The Environmental Assessment Office also said the sale has no impact on the society’s application for an environmental review.
“Unless there were significant or material changes to the proposed project prior to a decision being made, a change in operator would not have an impact on the decision materials before the decision-maker,” it said. “Any substantial changes to a proposed project before a decision is made would require further review and potentially additional consultation and assessment activities, as well as likely updates to any EAO report prepared.”
Granite said the company is committed to moving the expansion project forward.
“Granite is looking forward to becoming a part of the local community,” said Brad Estes, the company’s vice-president of construction materials. “We are vertically integrated in many of our markets, and we believe the Bamberton quarry offers an opportunity to supply construction materials to local projects.”
Michael Simmons, a member of the Saanich Inlet Protection Society, said Granite appears to be environmentally sensitive, which could mean the sale benefits the region.
The Environmental Assessment Office said it could not estimate when the Environment minister will make a decision on the application for an environmental review.
>>> To comment on this article, write a letter to the editor: firstname.lastname@example.org