A local environmental group says they have been trying to meet with the Province’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy since October to discuss the proposed Burnco aggregate mine, slated for Howe Sound.

In a press release My Sea to Sky claims they have been told by staff that Minister George Heyman is too busy to meet with the group and says it feels like Heyman is being unfairly restricted ahead of the Environmental Assessment Office’s (EAO) final report. The group organized a demonstration outside the Minister’s office on January 26th in Vancouver, to protest the alleged shunning.

A public comment process was held last fall, and the Ministry says the EAO is completing the review of comments received, including the submissions and feedback from My Sea to Sky, which will be summarized in the final report. The Ministry also confirmed that the report has considered potential impacts to fish and fish habitat, real estate values, and marine transportation, among other potential adverse effects.

Minister Heyman responded to the claims, saying it would be inappropriate for Ministers to engage in discussions with parties regarding the Burnco Project, and the forthcoming environmental assessment decision at this stage of the process; “My role as a statutory decision maker under the Environmental Assessment Act, as well as the role of the EAO under the Act, creates legal obligations and considerations related to administrative fairness. Meeting one party with an interest in the decision, for instance, without extending the same opportunity to all such parties creates a perception of potential bias which may affect the integrity of the environmental assessment process and create a potential legal vulnerably.”

My Sea to Sky Executive Director Tracey Saxby says the environmental assessment process is completely broken; “The process relies on science that is bought and paid for by the proponent, which has an inherent conflict of interest.” The group claims 3,500 people have sent letters to the Ministry calling for a review of the environmental assessment process as well as conduct an independent baseline assessment of wild salmon populations in McNab Creek. My Sea to Sky says McNab Creek is one of only three salmon-bearing estuaries in Howe Sound.

If approved, Burnco will build a new sand and gravel mine on the northwest shore of Howe Sound, approximately 22 kilometres southwest of Squamish. The mine’s production capacity would be up to 1.6 million tonnes of sand and gravel per year, over an expected mine life of about 16 years.


Filed under: Burnco, George Heyman, Howe Sound, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, My Sea to Sky