On October 30, 2023, the Province issued an amended permit for the Bamberton quarry to the Malahat Investment Corporation. This was accompanied by a Decision Rationale of the Executive Director, Regional Operations Branch, Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation (EMLI).
Annual production has doubled, to up to 479,000 tonnes per year. The Permit includes 14 pages of conditions. These are summarized below.
Environmental Review Committee
MIC must establish an Environmental Review Committee, including representatives of local government. The committee must be facilitated by an independent third party. This was recommended by the Minister of Environment and requested by SIPS. The terms of reference must include provisions or consideration of the results from a cumulative effects analysis conducted by the Ministry of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship.
Several requirements to report annually, including reporting on compliance with permit conditions.
MIC must implement the Erosion and Sediment Control Plan and the Water Management and Monitoring Plan. Additional detailed requirements set out in the Permit (p.13). One of these requirements it that the effectiveness of erosion and sediment control measures must be monitored by a Qualified Professional. From October to March this monitoring must take place weekly.
MIC must implement Noise and Vibration Control measures set out in the Environmental Management Plan. Noise must be monitored on and off site, maximum noise levels at the point of reception outside the quarry must not exceed 90 decibels during quarry operations and 120 decibels during blasting.
MIC must implement the Dust Mitigation and Monitoring Plan. Dust plumes must not exceed 10 metres in height or laterally, dust must not propagate outside the quarry area, including marine areas.
Hours of Operation and Notification of Blasting
Excavation, crushing and screening restricted to 7 to 5. No operations on Sundays and stats. without written approval.
Blasting is only permitted from 9 to 5 Monday to Friday only. Public notification of blasting 48 hours ahead of time on a website hosted by MIC. The notice must specify a 4-hour window within which the blasting will occur. Blasting must be electronically monitored.
Measures to reduce the impact of lights on residents and wildlife, including placing lights close to the worksite, shrouding floodlights and directing them down
MIC must prepare geotechnical pit slope designs, including stability analyses before moving higher than 36 metres or developing the lower quarry. MIC must prepare a geohazard assessment and monitoring report.
MIC must implement the Reclamation and Closure Plan, which includes progressive reclamation where possible when operations move to a different part of the quarry. A reclamation security of $125,000 is required.
Within one year, MIC must develop a reclamation research program and monitoring plan to achieve “natural state”/wildlife habitat status with natural vegetation
Duration of Permit
The term of the permit is 30 years.
Soil Storage Facility
No mining activity may take place within 15 metres of the Soil Storage Facility.
No storage or treatment of material from off site, including soil, unless authorized in writing.
Timing windows to protect wildlife.
Note that the anticipated end use of the site is mixed residential, commercial and industrial.
As you know, the Minister of Environment rejected our request for an environmental assessment but pointed to an enhanced permitting process and a future cumulative effects assessment. After that we engaged with EMLI to try to influence the terms of any permit that would be issued. Here is a reminder of what we asked for. In our submission to EMLI we asked for:
- A visual impact assessment – this was not required. The Permit requires progressive reclamation, buffers around Bamber Creek and Saanich Inlet, monitoring and research program.
- An Environmental Review Committee, as recommended by the Minister of Environment. This is a requirement of the permit. A term less than 30 years. This was not accepted.
- Permit conditions requiring implementation of the Reclamation and Closure Plan, Sediment and Erosion Control Plans, Environmental Management Plan and Dust Mitigation and Monitoring Plan. This recommendation was accepted.
- A Website for posting important information, including, technical reports filed as part of the permitting process, periodic monitoring reports, information on hours of operation, and notification of blasting. This was partly accepted. MIC is required to host a website which will give notification of blasting. Technical reports are available on a government website. Hours of operation are specified in the Permit. Monitoring reports will presumably be made available to the Environmental Review Committee.
- A community liaison group. This request was not granted.
- Reasonable conditions on hours of operation, lights and advance notice of blasting. This was partly accepted. People might disagree on whether all the conditions are “reasonable”.
- A substantial bond adequate to cover remediation costs. The required security of $125,000 does not seem to meet this request. We have been told that there is a formula for this and the permit issuer does not have discretion.