Residents speak to gravel pit, employee housing at public hearings

By Laura Keil

Two public hearings were held last week for projects proposed by Shawn and Diane Fowler via two numbered companies.

The first hearing was for a temporary use permit for the creation of a gravel pit in the vicinity of Tete Jaune, which would include crushing and processing the gravel. The site, located on 3.4 acres of Crown Land east of the train overpass on Hwy 5, roughly 1km from Tete Jaune, was cleared by a previous permit holder in anticipation of creating a gravel pit.

At the meeting Shawn Fowler said he doesn’t want to own a gravel pit, but he needs crushed gravel and says he can’t find anyone to crush it for him.

Fowler says he needs needs gravel for building homes, as per building code requirements for radon gas. He says without it, he can’t build.

The Fowlers own a branch of Whisper Creek Log Homes and also have a vacation rental business.

A dozen Tete Jaune residents showed up to the meeting with questions about noise, dust, and vibrations.

Garry Wallace was most concerned about the potential disturbance to guests at his B&B.

“My wife and I have a B&B and we have guests coming to stay there that want natural, quiet nature … This is rocks hitting metal. I don’t know how far it’s going to carry. That’s very concerning to me if he’s going to impact my business and somebody wants to make money off our community and impact the rest of us, our quality of life.”

Wallace and others also complained that the public hearing ad in the newspaper was not specific enough. It referenced preliminary resource processing, but did not mention gravel, for instance.

According to the application, operations would be limited to the daytime 8am-5pm Monday to Friday and Fowler said he would likely only need to run the gravel pit during the spring, not the summer, but that depended on demand. The Temporary Use Permit would allow him to operate March 1st-November 30th for the next three years, if approved.

The site is approximately 1km from Tete Jaune’s central residential area.

Regarding noise, Fowler added that the area is heavily wooded and he plans to build berms. The gravel pit would also be recessed down and dust mitigation (ex. watering) is required now by the Mines Act. Water would be hauled in for this purpose.

Many of the concerns brought up at the meeting were addressed by Shawn Fowler, though some details regional district representatives noted were better asked of the Ministry of Mines, regarding mining laws. As the meeting progressed, the mood in the room lightened and Regional District Rep Dannielle Alan, who helped facilitate the meeting, noted that the good neighbour philosophy seemed to be in action regarding the proponent being willing to address concerns.

The second public hearing was for employee accommodations on an industrial-zoned lot on Coyote Road. The lot already has a warehouse on it. The employee accommodations would comprise a cookshack and a bunkhouse, of a design commonly seen in the oilfield.

Neighbours brought up concerns about the employee housing. Shawn Fowler said if the employee housing is successful he plans to build a permanent structure, like a log home, to use as a rental for employees. The application would allow only two units with a combined floor area of no more than 1400 square feet. Septic would be disposed of off-site. Once the temporary use permit expires (and if it isn’t renewed) all associated employee housing buildings need to be removed.

Fowler noted he could not find enough employees locally.

The Regional District Board will consider both temporary use permits at an upcoming meeting.

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