A Cariboo rancher’s application to extract gravel on private property is being forwarded by the Cariboo Regional District (CRD) to the Agricultural Land Commission without a recommendation because of concerns raised by a local First Nation.
During the regular CRD board meeting Thursday, Feb. 11, directors received a letter from Williams Lake First Nation’s (WLFN) manager of title and rights Whitney Spearing.
Spearing noted the WLFN had objections to the application because of the ‘continued lack of access to WLFN Chimney Creek IR. No. 5’ along the Fraser River and the ‘destruction of archaeological and heritage sites,’ being contrary to several of the principles set out in the United Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
The gravel pit is located at 1330 Highway 20 on a ranch owned by William Stafford’s family since the 1960s.
Today Stafford owns it along with his wife Lyn and their sons Ross and James.
The Staffords told the Tribune their application for a mine permit to extract gravel is on private property for an existing pit that has been there for 50 years and has nothing to do with the ongoing communications with the WLFN about the access to IR#5 fishing reserve through their private property.
“They have never been denied access to fish,” the Staffords said.
As for the heritage and archaeological concerns with the gravel pit, the Staffords said there was an investigation completed on Sept. 13, 2020 on the archaeological and heritage site and the results were no identification of remnants at the site.
The Staffords, who were unaware of the letter filed by WLFN, said the site poses no threat to archaeological resources within the pit.
Their application is to supply gravel to local businesses on a supply and demand basis for maintenance of roads in the local area, they added.
During the CRD meeting Area E director Angie Delainey, whose region encompasses the gravel pit, suggested the CRD reject the application.
“This has had left me with a few sleepless nights,” she said.
Chief administrative officer John MacLean said the CRD was being asked to referee in a sphere of provincial jurisdiction because mineral extraction and gravel extraction require a duty to consult and that rests with the Crown.
“There will be gravel pit applications coming forward more and more that will require ALC approval,” said Chair Margo Wagner. “The ALC needs to see an application that we are struggling with.”
“WLFN’s position is that no application in relation to the subject property should be considered by the Advisory Planning Commission, the CRD, Ministry of Energy Mines and Petroleum Resources or any other Crown entity until the issues addressed in this letter are resolved to the reasonable satisfaction of WLFN,” Spearing stated.
Kim Grout, chief executive officer of the ALC said it is not completely uncommon for the ALC to receive a resolution to forward an application without a recommendation.
“It cannot come to us unless a local government passes a motion to say that it will and we see all kinds of variations of that,” she told the Tribune.
ALC decision makers will now review the application.