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B.C. gravel industry pulls out of FVRD gravel removal plan

A regional gravel removal plan may be on its last legs after the BC Stone, Sand & Gravel Association pulled out of a proposed pilot program at the Fraser Valley Regional District.

But FVRD officials and Abbotsford/Mission MLA Randy Hawes believe they can still salvage the tripartite agreement that was 10 years in the making.

Paul Allard, the gravel association's executive director, confirmed Wednesday that "due to lack of progress" in implementing the plan, the association has formally withdrawn from the Fraser Valley Aggregate pilot Project (APP).

"We thought the plan was a pretty simple solution," he said, to the gravel industry's need for a stable supply of gravel, the concerns of homeowners who feared the opening of gravel pits in their backyards and the legal quagmire facing the FVRD in court.

The APP designated areas where gravel mining would be permitted, where it would not be permitted, and where it might be permitted under certain conditions.

Currently, gravel operations can open up a quarry anywhere, as long as they have the approval of the B.C. mines inspector.

Allard said the APP "has grown into a monster" instead, and he doesn't see any way the plan can be resurrected, "not at this point."

But MLA Randy Hawes said the "delay lies with the government" and "I am working to get this back on track, and I believe it can happen."

Yale area director Dennis Adamson, a vocal critic of the APP, agreed the plan is not dead - but he wished it was.

"I hope it does die, but I fear removal of the gravel industry (from the APP) isn't going to end it," he said.

FVRD chair Sharon Gaetz said the fate of the APP is now in the hands of the B.C. government, but she also believes the project will continue

"We are not throwing up our hands and walking away," she said, just because the industry has withdrawn from the process.

Officials at the Forests, Mines and Lands ministry were not available to comment on the status of the APP by Wednesday's deadline.

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