Gravel miners dispute city-imposed setback

A dispute between two local businesses and the city over a gravel mining operation off Foothills Boulevard and North Nechako Road is headed to court.

Rock'n'Roll Aggregates Ltd. and Rolling Mix Concrete (B.C.) Ltd. filed a notice of claim at the Prince George courthouse this week seeking to overturn a 100-metre setback imposed by the City on the activity.

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The plaintiffs contend the work should instead be subject to the B.C. Mines Act, which they say allows a five-metre setback.

The 100-metre setback imposes a "very significant" impact, according to the notice, because it removes about one-third of the sand and gravel reserve they otherwise would have been able to mine. The material was to be used to "ensure the continuation of supply for concrete manufacture" by Rolling Mix, they say in the notice.

They say activity within the 100-metre setback was ceased mid-October 2020 in response to an order issued by the city. The site is southwest of the intersection of Foothills and North Nechako and bordered by residential property to the west and the north.

The plaintiffs are seeking a declaration that the province has exclusive jurisdiction to regulate mining activity through the Mines Act and that the city's bylaw regulating the activity does not apply.

If the court instead finds the city does have the power to regulate their activity, they're seeking to have the site declared a legal non-conforming use, arguing that the activity has occurred at the location since 1995. A bylaw imposing the 100-metre setback only came into effect in April 2019, according to the notice.

If the court finds in favour of the city on whether it has the power to impose the 100-metre setback they are also seeking compensation pursuant to the Community Charter. They are also seeking court costs and interest and damages should the court determine the city "injuriously affected an interest" in the land.

The claim has not been tested in court and the city has not yet filed a response to the notice of claim.

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