There’s been a big step forward for a project that has met vocal opposition from environmentalists in Squamish.
The province announced in a news release Tuesday that Victoria has granted an Environmental Assessment Certificate to Burnco Rock Products Ltd. for a project that is anticipated to change the landscape of Howe Sound.
It was an announcement that was criticized by local environmentalists.
"We strongly disagree with the conclusions of the BC Environmental Assessment Office that the project will have 'little significant impact' on fish habitat, dust and noise levels and local real estate values," wrote Eoin Finn of environmental group My Sea to Sky in an email.
"The EAO process, which relied heavily on professional reliance ("science" paid for by the proponent), ignored the independent science we submitted showing McNab Creek to be important habitat for the salmon so critical to the survival of starving, endangered orcas."
He said if this project proceeds, it would be akin to "sacrificing a thriving salmon estuary."
Burnco proposes a 70-hectare sand, gravel and rock mine, located on the northwest shore of Howe Sound, approximately 22 kilometres southwest of Squamish.
The Burnco project would extract up to 1.5 million tonnes of sand and gravel per year over a 16-year mine life. The project includes a marine barge loading facility and marine transportation route within Howe Sound.
In addition to the 25 conditions that are part of the Burnco project’s Environmental Assessment Certificate, design requirements are specified in the certified project description.
Each of the conditions and the certified project description are legally-binding requirements that Burnco must meet to maintain compliance with the certificate.
Burnco is also required to obtain other federal, provincial and local government permits to proceed with construction of the project.
According to the province, Burnco has said that construction of the new mine is expected to create the equivalent of 40 full-time positions per year over the two-year construction period.
Total costs of $21.5 million is anticipated to contribute $8.4 million toward British Columbia’s gross product product, the province estimates.
During operations, 14 full-time-equivalent positions are expected to be created, with expenditures averaging $15 million per year over 16 years.
Squamish Nation recently indicated its support for the Burnco Project, having reached an agreement with the company in order to mitigate its concerns.
The environmental assessment file can be found here:
Reasons for the decision are listed here:
The ministers responsible for the decision were George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, and Michelle Mungall, Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources.
***Please note this story has been updated to include reaction from environmentalists.