Owners of a company wanting to run a portable concrete batch plant on the outskirts of Williams Lake were surprised by the opposition toward the project being voiced by some local residents on social media.
Hail Mary Investment Corporation (HMIC)’s Daryl Taylor and Jared Sales said if their concrete ready-mix batch plant, owned by Celtic Aggrate and Concrete, goes in, it will not have big impacts on the environment or the local neighbourhood.
The plant would take up less than half an acre of the 10-acre parcel HMIC purchased at 665 Highway 20 last year and Taylor anticipates it would result in four trucks leaving with concrete from the plant two times a day.
Sales and Taylor said it was “incorrectly” described as a “cement plant,” by the CRD in its report to the board for its April 13 meeting.
“This is not about cement manufacturing,” Sales said. “We use cement in a vacuum silo, the cement is contained with vacuum socks, with everything to manage that. It is watered down to stop the dust.”
They purchased the used batch plant after receiving lots of demand from customers for concrete product selection, they said.
HMIC is comprised of five different companies that do logging, construction, general contracting, engineering, aggregate and concrete. Purchasing the property made it possible for all of the companies be in one location.
On Monday, April 25, the Tribune toured the property with Sales and Taylor who confirmed a specific location on the site for the concrete batch plant has not been selected.
Since purchasing the property they have logged the western back slope, which they said has been logged in the past, with the hope of possibly using it for part of their operations.
A geotechnical assessment of the slope will need to be completed and Taylor, who owns Celtic Engineering, said the report would be done by an independent firm.
Presently HMIC is operating the concrete batch plant on a leased property above the Williams Lake Stockyards.
“If it is up here on this property people probably will not even hear it running,” they said of the Highway 20 location.
Sales has lived in Williams Lake since 1989 after moving here with his parents and Taylor moved from the East Coast in 1996.
About 30 full-time employees work for them year round and up to 50 during the peak season.
Three Winger Road residents, who live across the Highway from the property, told the Tribune last week they are opposed to the plant for a variety of reasons such as increased traffic, noise, dust and possible impacts on the water table.
An article in the April 21 edition that covered some of their concerns garnered many comments online.
Prior to that, the residents had been lobbying the CRD to reject HMIC’s application to amend the zoning from light industrial to special exception M 1-7 zone to allow for the concrete plant. Fourteen residents sent letters to CRD Area E director Angie Delainey with concerns.
Taylor said the zoning amendment would allow them to operate the batch plant at the back of the property.
“We cannot do crushing, screening, or any of those things. It isn’t heavy industrial. It is a special exception.”
The Winger Road residents became concerned earlier in 2021, when logging occurred on an adjacent property, which is not owned by HMIC. The residents said for the first time ever, water flowed through a culvert under the highway. It pooled and froze in the winter at the intersection of Winger Road and Highway 20 for more than two months.
Some of them contacted Delainey asking if any applications for development across the highway came before to the CRD to let them know.
In February 2021, Delainey met with her advisory planning commission (APC) and Taylor to discuss HMIC’s application.
“My APC was split. Three were against and two were in favour,” she said.
During its April 13 regular meeting, the CRD board was asked to vote on releasing an existing covenant from the title of the HMIC property, approving a geotechnical hazard development permit and amending the zoning from light industrial to special exception M 1-7.
At the meeting, Delainey made a motion to reject the application.
“I believe that planning did their job, and the rezoning makes sense for this property if it wasn’t located in an ancient slide zone on the side of a hill,” part of her motion read.
CRD board members voted six to five in favour of giving first reading and requiring the company to hold a public information meeting.
Delainey, who lives on Birch Lane, has not toured the 665 Highway 20 property or seen the concrete batch plant for herself, she confirmed.
When asked about logging on the adjacent property, the ministry of forests said logging on private land can be under the jurisdiction of different agencies and any applicable permits, restrictions and or regulations regarding logging and environmental practices therein would fall under the bylaws of the local authority in which they live. The CRD bylaw department said it could not comment on whether or not there is an investigation.
Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Lorne Doerkson he has spoken with residents and the proponents.
“I certainly encourage the company to reach out to the residents who have a number of questions about the plant and the logging that took place on another property,” he said.
Editor’s Note: This article has updated to include the owner of the concrete batch plant as Concrete Aggragate and Concrete.