Opposition from ski hill spells demise for gravel and asphalt project

A proposal to establish a gravel processing and asphalt plant in the vicinity of Tabor Mountain Ski Resort has drawn enough opposition to convince Fraser-Fort George Regional District directors to reject the project.

Falcon Contracting Ltd. had been seeking a three-year temporary use permit for the operation on a 6.6-hectare site about 2.4 kilometres north of Highway 16 East, accessed by a logging road about 500 metres east of the ski hill.

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A public hearing on the matter drew 40 people and almost all who spoke said they were opposed, raising concerns about the potential noise, pollution and impact on the the view it could create.

The project also drew letters of concern from Tourism Prince George, Prince George Chamber of Commerce, Prince George Cycling Club, and B.C. Snowboard Association as well as two Prince George bike shops, three vendors who've done work on the ski hill and Intersect Youth and Family Services, which runs a snowboarding program for at-risk youth.

In his own letter, Tabor Mountain Ski Resort owner Fern Thibault said the recent opening of another operation, a rock quarry located about 400 metres from the hill, has "devastated our future business plans and stopped any further expansion."

"On a daily basis, we have experienced being able to hear every individual rock being loaded into the trucks as well as each piece of equipment's back up alarm, which is audible from the ski hill," Thibault said.

Increased truck traffic from the quarry has also made a "huge change" Thibault continued and claimed using explosives are in the plans for the site.

"This was just passed by the Ministry of Mines which we opposed along with numerous residents," Thibault said. "We're dealing with a second application from a different company which involves the placement of an asphalt and rock crushing plant directly behind the quarry, which is still in extremely close proximity of the ski hill."

It was enough for electoral area F (Willow River-Upper Fraser Valley) director Kevin Dunphy to vote against the proposal and for fellow directors unanimously to follow his lead during the FFGRD monthly meeting on Thursday.

"My feelings are on this particular project is that it will have an adverse effect on the ski hill," Dunphy said.

"The ski hill has been there for quite a few years and they're trying to extend so they have more summer use out of the mountain biking and for the idea of having a campground and I think there is a general consensus in the community that granting this use permit for this purpose would be detrimental to the future of the ski hill."

Prince George city director Murry Krause said Tabor Mountain has developed into a significant tourist attraction, "and to have people at the top of the ski hill looking down on an industrial site just doesn't contribute to that being what it could and should be."

The site is located on Crown land previously developed into a gravel pit by different tenure holder, which had been issued two-year temporary use permits for gravel extraction, cleaning and crushing and an asphalt plant in 2009 and 2011.

Falcon bought the site four months ago. According to public hearing minutes, the plan was to run a "modest in scope" operation, processing enough material to fill 5-6 truckloads per day.

Staff had drafted a list of conditions directors could have added to the permit to address the concerns: requiring use of an odour control additive; regulating the hours and days of operation; reducing the permit to two years; and excluding asphalt production as a permitted use.

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