For almost three years, hundreds of supporters of The Friends of Agassiz and Harrison Hot Springs have contested the approval of a mining permit for an open pit aggregate mine to be located on the doorstep of Harrison Hot Springs. The citizens of Agassiz and Harrison Hot Springs can be proud that they were able to influence the decision to put a stop to this mine. Their continued, tenacious vigilance made it possible to pull off a feat that many told us could never be accomplished. Quoting Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
With our continued and persistent opposition to the proposed quarry, we demonstrated to the Statutory Decision Maker and the Chief Inspector of Mines, Jim Dunkley, that an open pit aggregate mine so near an agricultural community and the village of Harrison Hot Springs was a bad idea. We focused on safety concerns including water contamination, noise, vibration and hillside instability. We highlighted the potential for environmental disasters caused by run off from a proposed access road which would be located directly above a slough and feeder stream to the Miami River. This ecosystem provides critical habitat for endanger species such as the Salish Sucker, Pacific Water Shrew and Northern Red Legged Frog. We pointed out the close proximity to the mine of power lines and the fact that land in the ALR would be used to stockpile mine materials. Lives of over 100 people living within a mile radius would be permanently impacted by the constant noise and dust created by mine operations, some living only 200 meters from the mine site.
As a result of the ruling, the threat to Harrison’s tourist industry was removed. The visual impact of a stark scar on the hillside would draw the attention of anyone driving along Hot Springs Road. A loss of tourists would cost jobs, threatening the hotel and restaurant industry in Harrison Hot Springs, and the retail businesses in both Harrison and Agassiz.
Thank you to everyone who put so much time and effort into this undertaking, contributing to a successful conclusion. In particular we wish to thank Harrison Hot Springs Mayor Leo Facio and Council for connecting us with local, provincial and federal politicians and agencies, and being our voice in Victoria. We also thank Mr. Dunkley and his team for taking into consideration the various issues we raised when he rendered his decision. We are obviously delighted with this ruling, knowing that the peaceful natural essence of this area will be preserved.
Harold Burins, Lauren Mithcell, Judy Barron
Friends of Agassiz and Harrison Hot Springs