A proposal to place a rock quarry on Smith Island ran into staunch opposition when it came before the board of the Skeena – Queen Charlotte Regional District.
Pacific Rim LNG is planning to create a 124.7 hectare rock quarry development capable of producing 200,000 tonnes of construction rock per year for the next 20 years on the west side of the island sitting at the mouth of the Skeena River. While the plan calls for a 30 metre buffer between the quarry and shore, where three barge docks would be located, directors at the meeting felt the location of the quarry was simply unacceptable.
“Smith Island is one of the most heavily fished areas of the Skeena estuary in terms of the gillnet and seine fishery. This project will have significant impacts on those fisheries both in terms of the upland effects from blasting and drilling, this is a significant migration route for mature and juvenile salmon, and the three proposed barge loading facilities at the foreshore will have significant impacts on those drifts as well … I cannot see allowing this to go forward because it will impact an economic activity that we already enjoy and is productive,” said director Des Nobels, who also questioned the motives of the proponent.
“They indicate they are going to take a limited amount of rock out of this area to avoid an environmental assessment and then at the end of the project they suggest this site would be available for industrial use. There is already a great deal of uproar and concern around the Petronas project, which is within the Skeena estuary. This is one thing people fear, that we will continue to see the industrialization of that estuary. Allowing this and the Petronas project would set a precedent and that would be the end of the area.”
Area C director Karl Bergman added his voice to that of opposition to the quarry proposal.
“It isn’t just the commercial fishery, it is a heavily used area recreationally. We also have the powerline that runs through there over to Porcher Island and Kitkatla” he said.
“There are a lot of other places this can go. If you put the quarry there it is going to be highly visible. This is right out at the front of Smith Island … it’s really a poorly chosen site as far as every day use goes.”
Dan Franzen of Port Edward also questioned the need for another rock quarry in the area, with several already operating on the North Coast.
“Right now they are all idle and just waiting to see who is going to go first. It’s getting a little out of control.”