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“What concerns me was the large divide between the experts,” said Coun. Kim McKylor.
Ultimately, she said, an enclave of eight homes — Crestview Estates — pressed up against the proposed mine site turned her against the plan.
Even so, McKylor said she expects the company to return with yet another proposal in years to come.
The only member of council to support the proposal on both votes, Greg Boehlke, said opponents unfairly demonized it. He rejected the notion such a rich vein of gravel could be easily mined elsewhere in the county.
“It almost makes it sound like it’s dirty business . . . It’s a lack of understanding or plain ignorance,” he said.
“Let’s not think you can just shove this off to somewhere else.”
A company spokesperson noted there are six other gravel operations in the area, adding none have affected groundwater supplies.
Earlier in the day, a company consultant said Lehigh Hanson had listened carefully to residents’ concerns and tailored its latest application to them, particularly with the conveyor belt that would eliminate truck traffic at the site.
It also included a vow to compensate the nearest residents for any affects on their water or property values, and a phased development of the quarry.
“We listened to, we recorded every comment we’ve heard and made changes,” said Ken Venner.
“This application is very different from the previous proposals.”
But opponents contended that since the company’s earlier attempts, many more people have moved within five kilometres of the proposed mine site. With a population that has swelled to more than 4,000, the area has become a more densely occupied part of the sprawling county.
“We have some of the highest value housing in the county being encroached on by a gravel pit,” said Coun. Kevin Hanson.
Weatherill said what hasn’t changed over 27 years is the underlying porous geology of the area that would put water wells and numerous wetlands at risk by the quarry.
“If (Lehigh Hanson) came back in one year or 100 years, it’d be just as dangerous to the groundwater,” he said.