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A fight she thought she won years ago
Kristina Tkachuk doesn't want a gravel pit right next to her property on Chatsworth Road in Whiskey Creek. She's determined to stop it, to the point of standing at the corner of Highway 4 and Chatsworth with picket signs to make her point.
She is also passing around a petition to stop the proposal by Mayco Mix Ltd. and is gathering e-mail addresses in a bid to fight a battle she thought she had won three years ago.
That fight was in 2010, when the company first proposed the 178-acre gravel pit to make up for a dwindling supply in their current pit, adjacent to the site.
At a public meeting about the proposal at that time, residents of the area expressed concern about inaccuracies in the company's mapping, which they said left out several watercourses, all of which find their way into Whiskey Creek, a fish-bearing watercourse.
The company eventually withdrew its application.
Tkachuk said she was surprised to read an advertisement in last Tuesday's edition of The NEWS, which once again proposed using the Crown parcel of land for gravel extraction.
"We have plenty of concerns," she said at her Friday picket. "It's a wetland and Whiskey Creek is protected by Fisheries. As well, it could have an impact on water quality because we are on wells out here. Traffic is also a concern, as well as the wetland itself and everything living in it. Everyone on this street is concerned. We had 200 people at a meeting two years ago."
She noted there is a deadline of Feb. 7 to voice concerns to the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources and she wants to make sure everybody in the neighbourhood — and beyond — are fully aware of the issue.
"I want to see the Crown land left alone and protected," she said when asked what outcome she would like to see in the dispute.
Qualicum Beach Streamkeepers spokesperson Faye Smith was one of the speakers at the meeting in 2010 and she said she's still concerned about the plan and plans to monitor developments.
"Qualicum Beach Streamkeepers have put a lot of effort into water quality and habitat in Whiskey Creek and we certainly don't want to see anything happen there," she said. "I'm happy to say (the company) did contact our fisheries biologist to do an assessment of the channels around there and he did that and recommended buffers. There are tons of channels that go through the area that feed into Whiskey Creek, so it's a big concern to us. We want to see that the recommendations of the fisheries biologist are in place or even improved."
Mayco Mix Ltd. manager Doug Lum expressed frustration at the picket and petition campaign, noting nobody has come to talk to him about the proposal.
"We did apply in 2010 and at that time there was obviously some opposition from the locals out there and we were invited to their town hall meeting and explained we were just going through a process and the Crown land was available," he said. "We took a whole bunch of concerns back from the locals there and as part of this process we will be hearing what the neighbours have to say about it. I am sure there are a few up there who are not happy, so it's good to hear what their concerns are."
He said trying to address concerns people have about the proposal is difficult if nobody talks to him about it, likening it to shooting in the dark.
"Our door is open and we have left site drawings and our plan for the public to view at the Qualicum Beach Library and we have a set in our plant so people can come in and have a look and any questions can be answered."
Lum said he will make every effort to address concerns raised.
"I hope we can address all of them," he said. "It's a case of going through the process. There will be an opportunity for the public to advise the Ministry of Lands. I just hope they can come up to me and advise me of what those concerns are."