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"Slip, sliding away..."
03-31-2013, 10:55 AM, (This post was last modified: 04-01-2013, 06:45 AM by Skook.)
RE: "Slip, sliding away..."
Part 2 - It really is the pits...

The last glacier advance and retreat shaped the Sunshine Coast and left behind a valuable resource. As a result, anyone moving to the SC will be exposed one way or another to its extraction: gravel mining. Those with a water view in Gibsons or along the peninsula coastline will see the empty and loaded barges pass in Georgia Strait. If you are driving the Sunshine Coast Highway you will pass the largest sand and gravel mine in Canada located almost in the heart of Sechelt; in fact, you will drive over the plant’s 1 km long conveyor belt which passes through a tunnel under the highway as it heads out to a barge/tanker terminus in Trail Bay. Those living in West Sechelt and Egmont will have to grow accustom to the sound of rock crushers; and, in the dry summer months be prepared for the fine dust that rises from the operations and gets carried by wind.

As I mentioned in my first thread post ‘An Introduction’ gravel mining played an important role in the population growth of the SC and its economic value to the province took on greater importance with the lower mainland’s mad rush to become the “Best Place on Earth” which picked up steam beginning in the late 1960s and early 1970s. I found the interesting map below in a 1980 ‘Sand and Gravel Study’ produced for the then Mineral Resources Branch of the BC Government. It shows the lower mainland was pulling in construction aggregates not only from the SC but from Vancouver Island, the San Juan Islands and the western United States to meet its road, bridge and home building needs.
[Image: attachment.php?aid=68]

On the map above, I have indicated the four major SC gravel mines with a blue box. Starting at the top and going counter-clockwise you have Jack Crewe Ltd.’s Delta Rock operation in Jervis Inlet. Below that is the Lafarge Earle Creek operation in the Skookumchuck Narrows near Egmont. Next is the Lehigh Construction Aggregates operation in Sechelt and finally the former Construction Aggregates Ltd. mine at Port Mellon in Howe Sound.

The following map also from that 1980 study puts numbers to the movement of that gravel and sand.

[Image: attachment.php?aid=69]

I went into Google Earth to grab snapshots of the SC mine sites and as you will see they all lie at mouths of deep creek fed valleys. Except for the Port Mellon site, the others began operation mining marine till and as that was exhausted began moving further up the valleys and hillsides to extract the next layers of sand and glacial till.

I will keep the description of these mines brief because most have a history of multiple ownership or operators. Below shows the locations of the Jack Crewe Ltd operation in Jervis Inlet at Delta Rock (locals also refer to it as OB) and the Lafarge Earle Creek operation next to the Skookumchuck Rapids in the Skookumchuck Narrows. (I have also indicated recent logging by Geoff “Trust me, I am a developer” Courtnall and partners; and, Egmont’s bare mountains may be worthy of their own thread down the road).
[Image: attachment.php?aid=70]
Next, is the huge operation in Sechelt. Construction Aggregates Ltd. took over operations in 1989 and the company has since been absorbed into the Lehigh Hanson conglomerate. The first map above shows that the gravel from this mine used to be barged up the Sechelt Inlet, through the rapids and out through the Narrows. This was a costly, time consuming and dangerous route and came to an end after the building of a terminus in Trail Bay which you can see in the smaller inserted images.
[Image: attachment.php?aid=71]
The operation in Port Mellon closed in 1989 when its operator, Construction Aggregates Ltd., was offered the Sechelt operation by the regional government. The SCRD wanted to turn Port Mellon into an industrial Park and it is the present location for Howe Sound Pulp and Paper. However, a new mine proposal for McNab Creek has entered the final environmental process stage. A Google search will show this new mine is controversial; however, I think it will pass regardless of voices raised against it. The details of the Burnco Rock Products mine proposal can be found on the SCRD website (
[Image: attachment.php?aid=72]
With the Gordon Campbell governments, resource extraction or as conservationists call it, “The industrialization of the hinterland,” took on greater importance. In 2001, a ‘Sunshine Coast Gravel Study’ was undertaken and I will briefly look at its results in my next post.

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Messages In This Thread
"Slip, sliding away..." - by Skook - 03-29-2013, 11:12 AM
RE: "Slip, sliding away..." - by Skook - 03-31-2013, 10:55 AM
RE: "Slip, sliding away..." - by Skook - 04-01-2013, 06:38 AM
RE: "Slip, sliding away..." - by Skook - 04-02-2013, 12:27 PM
More dirt... - by Skook - 04-18-2013, 01:58 PM

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