The road to the Fraser Valley's Sumas Mountain Inter-Regional Park is mostly used by families and mountain bikers, but Metro Vancouver staff are worried about a new kind of user: dump trucks.

That's because a gravel and decorative rock quarry proposal, right next to the park boundaries, is being considering by the province.

If approved, Metro Vancouver says it would bring a major increase in truck traffic to the area to haul away 59,000 tonnes of material every year for up to 10 years.

"The biology and ecology of the area may be affected if this project goes ahead, and certainly the recreational activities will be interfered with, affected and hampered," said Frieda Schade, Metro Vancouver's manager of planning and engineering for parks.

"The area won't be as enjoyable either for humans and the plants and animals."

Metro Vancouver staff are recommending the regional district register its opposition to the quarry at a Wednesday meeting.

The Fraser Valley Regional District, which co-manages the park with Metro Vancouver, will also consider a motion Tuesday morning to oppose the project.

Sumas gravel quarry

This map in a Metro Vancouver staff report shows the area of the proposed quarry. The green shaded areas are the park; the red outline is the lease area; and the red shaded area is the proposed work area. The yellow lines indicate hiking trails and the P in the lease area is the main parking lot for the park. (Metro Vancouver)

'One of the last relatively intact forested expanses'

Staff reports from Metro Vancouver and the FVRD say the mine's lease area overlaps the park, but a spokesperson for the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources says the lease will be entirely on Crown land just outside of it.

A map of the proposal shows the work itself will take place just outside the park boundaries.

Still, the staff reports argue Sumas Mountain is rich in both recreational and ecological value and worthy of protection.

Schade points to a 2010 study by the City of Abbotsford that calls it "one of the last relatively intact forested expanses in the lower Fraser Valley," which survives as a natural island in an area heavily used for industry and agriculture.

She says it is home to 40 species at risk, including the Pacific giant salamander, mountain beaver and the olive-sided flycatcher.

She says the park is also popular with local outdoor enthusiasts who come to hike and bird watch or cycle the BMX trails.

"All would be impacted by this quarry proposal, plus, the ability for people to get to the areas where they park to enjoy these activities would be hampered by additional truck traffic from the quarry area because they use the same access road," she said.

"There's also the noise and dust and visual disturbance of something like a quarry, which could be quite significant in an area that was formerly treed and pristine."

Application in works since 2011

The application for the quarry dates back to 2011, but Schade says it has changed substantially since then.

She says it was originally an application to conduct exploration drilling for a short time; now, it is an application to lease the land for 10 years and strip away materials from the mountain face.

CBC attempted to contact the company proposing the quarry, 266531 B.C. Ltd, but messages were not returned by deadline.

Clarifications

  • This story has been updated to reflect differing assertions about the proposed quarry's lease boundaries.
    Sep 13, 2017 10:26 AM PT