Residents worried about soil removal at Ok Centre Road

Council should think about residents’ health before it ‘saves a few bucks.’

An Okanagan woman is concerned for the health of her elderly mother and other Lake Country residents near the site of several gravel pit operations now that another application is before Lake Country council this week.

Maggie Getz, a registered nurse, says locals will be affected if Lake Country council gives the go ahead to another soil removal operation near the corner of Glenmore Road and Okanagan Centre Road West.

“There is a concern about people who already have breathing problems,” said Getz, who’s 90-year-old mother lives nearby. “It’s dusty already in the area. My mother planted a row of cedars to help keep the dust down. There is also a lot of noise pollution and traffic is really bad on Glenmore Road.”

Council met Tuesday night to discuss the application. Results of the meeting were not available at press deadline.

The owners of the 8.5 acre parcel of land received approval for the soil removal in 2008, although there was no action because they couldn’t get the additional approval to access the property.

Now they have that approval off Okanagan Centre Road West.

Family member Mike Large says it’s not a full scale gravel pit operation and the plan is to level the land and prepare it for a future use which hasn’t been determined.

“The property has been sitting for a long time and we have been looking into what we could do,” said Large, whose parents own the property. “We had tried to do a housing development there but that was voted down. This is just a temporary permit and the soil will just be used as needed.”

The adjacent properties are already soil removal and processing sites with the Ministry of Highways operating a gravel pit as well as pits operated by Peter Bros. and OK. Builders.

Large says if his family’s application receives approval to move ahead, residents won’t notice much change and any additional dust or traffic would only be temporary.

“It’s basically just a mound there, so once that is depleted there won’t be any operation there and then we will have to see what Lake Country’s plans are,” said Large.

District of Lake Country staff were recommending approval of the application, in part because it fits in with future plans to re-direct Okanagan Centre Road West. In his report to council, Lake Country planner Paul Wolanski admitted that “gravel pits have been contentious issue…particularly due to the length of time an operation exists and the lack of reclamation.”

Under the proposal the applicant would build a three-metre tall berm along Glenmore Road to shield residential areas. They would also have to put up a $30,000 bond to ensure dust control measures are in place as well as reclamation when the operation is complete.

Wolanski said the operation fits well with Lake Country’s future plans for Okanagan Centre Road West. “The intent of the soil removal process is to sell gravel product as well as bring the area to roughly level with Glenmore Road,” Wolanksi wrote in his report.

The district’s future plans show the subject property being intersected by Okanagan Centre and Glenmore roads.

“Council can flatten that out without having a gravel screening operating there,” Getz said. “The health and safety of residents in the area should come before council saves a few bucks on flattening an area out.”

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