November 19, 2014
Background of the Location
The Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) place name for McNab Creek is “Kw’ech’ténm,” which means “cutting fish place.” First Nations people have visited this valley and the shores of McNab Creek for hundreds of generations past.
The private land directly adjacent has been residential since the 1940’s. Today, fourteen homes are enjoyed year round by owners in the 16 lot McNab Creek Strata. The area is renowned for hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing and for its beauty, and quiet. The threat of rezoning the adjacent land to allow heavy industry has been ongoing for the property owners. Due to the environmental recovery of Howe Sound Orcas, whales and dolphins have returned to this area. Once again, this recovery is under threat.
The privately owned BURNCO land in the McNab Valley has been trading ownership since 1970 when Canadian Forest Products (CANFOR) obtained a Crown Land Grant. Logging is still ongoing in this valley today. In the late 90’s a channel was constructed that runs parallel to McNab Creek, this was built as compensation for annual dredging of the Rainy River in another valley by the pulp and paper company at Port Mellon. An extension to this channel was built in 2003 by DFO and monitoring of fish activity has been ongoing.
In the 1990’s Westcoast Gas Service was granted an environmental assessment certificate to store Liquified Natural Gas adjacent to the existing natural gas pipeline. The storage facility would have been 7.5 kms. from the shore of Howe Sound. The land falls within the jurisdiction of the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) and is zoned RU-2 Rural.The project was strongly opposed by the public, and the SCRD turned down the rezoning application. Westcoast Energy did not proceed with the project due to economic reasons.
In the early 2000’s Howe Sound Pulp and Paper Ltd. received ownership of the property and in 2004 sold to AJB Investments, part of the Surespan Group. AJB was proposing gravel mines along Chapman and McNab Creeks. In 2008, BURNCO Rock Products purchased the 320 hectare property with the intention of developing a large scale gravel operation. In 2016 the Box Canyon Run of the River Project brought its 16 megawat project online. This project diverts three creeks, Box Canyon Creek, Marty Creek, and Cascara Creek which are tributaries to McNab Creek. The powerhouse is located 1 km. from the shores of Howe Sound. The project would have required a permit from Fisheries and Oceans, but changes to the Fisheries Act in 2012 removed that requirement. It is too early to determine the impacts this project is having on fish downstream as well as the impact of noise during full operation. The Province requires appropriate zoning for run of the river power projects, and the SCRD complied.
Timeline of the BURNCO Proposal:
- A synopsis of the original plan
- Dec. 2011 – Official plan submitted to BCEAO by Golder Associates
- Sep. 2013 – Burnco Draft A.I.R. Doc Released
- Oct. 2013 – Public Comments received
- Feb, 2014 – Burnco response to comments
- July, 2014 – Revised Project Description
- Dec. 2014 – Joint response to public comments from EAO
- Dec. 2014 – Approved A.I.R./Environmental Impact Statement Guidelines
- April, 2015 – Order to amend length of public comment period
- Feb. 2016 – Public Consultation and Communication Plan
- Sunshine Coast Regional District Burnco Project page re. Rezoning Application
- August 2016 – Environmental Assessment Office received and accepted BURNCO’s application. – 45 day Public Consultation period begins August 15.
- October 2016 – BURNCO Gravel Update Fall 2016
- December 2016 – BURNCO Gravel Mine Review Suspended
- Direct link to the Project Summary
Burnco Rock Products proposes to build a large scale gravel mine at McNab Creek, smack in the middle of the Sound. They plan to dig a 30-hectare pit, build an onsite crushing and processing plant, and produce 20 million tonnes of aggregate per year over 16 years. The project will create only 12 direct operational jobs.
Industrial activity will be an eyesore, machinery noise will disturb quality of life and reduce property values. Vibrations will interfere with marine mammals’ navigation, food finding, and reproductive systems—effectively driving the orcas and dolphins away.
McNab Creek currently hosts bald eagles , Roosevelt Elk , and an estuary flourishing with marine life . Burnco’s consultants identified 23 species at risk that this mine would threaten. The Departments of Fisheries and Oceans expressed strong concern about the project’s impact to fish and fish habitat, particularly chum and coho salmon.
And still, plans for the mine continue.
Future of Howe Sound Society has been granted public participant funding by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency . We represent a coalition of local non-profit organizations who oppose this kind of non-renewable resource extraction in this location.
Noise reverberating off the mountains surrounding the site and the ocean. This area is valued for its peace and quiet.
Decline in property values and natural capital values. Howe Sound watersheds provide an estimated annual value of $800 million to $4.7 billion in ecosystem services.
Effects on marine life, wildlife, fish and recovering Howe Sound.
Effect on the biodiversity and ecological value of the estuary.
Rezoning from current rural RU-2 to industrial use. Rezoning increases industrial land use in Howe Sound not protection.
Indirect and direct job losses due to negative effects of the mine on other economies in the area for only 12 permanent jobs created.
Cumulative impacts on wildlife from the new Run of the River power project and ongoing logging in the McNab Valley.
Future expansion of the mine beyond 16 years and its current size.
How you can help – Environmental Assessment Office rarely rejects a project. We need your support in making sure they understand the serious issues at stake.
Media regarding the BURNCO project:
Feb. 12, 2012 – McNab Creek Gravel Mine Threatens all of Howe Sound
Sept 4, 2014 – BURNCO revised gravel mine plan Sept. 25, 2014 – SCRD calls for halt to BURNCO review Oct. 16, 2014 – SCRD backs off BURNCO plan Aug. 11, 2016 – BURNCO application enters comment phase Aug. 18, 2016 – BURNCO information overwhelming
Common Sense Canadian
Sept. 17, 2012 – Top 10 Reasons to Save Howe Sound’s McNab Creek from a Gravel Mine
August 2015 – Calgary CTV News
July 2015 – Edmonton Journal
April 2015 – Global News
December 2014 – Stony Plain Journal(Please forward any info, errors, omissions to firstname.lastname@example.org )