The Stevens Quarry is one step closer to approval.
The Yukon Environmental Socio-economic Assessment Board recommended that the quarry, located at the north end of Whitehorse, be allowed to move forward, provided a long list of terms and conditions are met.
“In general we’re really happy with the recommendations that YESAB has put out,” said Christina Macdonald, the wildlife co-ordinator for the Yukon Conservation Society. “There were a number of concerns about what was being proposed and I think YESAB has done a good job of considering all that important information and coming up with recommendations for a project that minimizes impacts and makes more sense in the long run.
The assessment board made 49 recommendations in total.
In addition to recommending that the northern boundary of the quarry be redesigned so that there is a minimum of 1,000 metres away from the Takhini River, the board called for the entire project to be scaled back.
It recommended that one of the five proposed pits should be ruled out entirely, and should be used as a green buffer zone instead.
The board is also calling for the project to be phased in, that only one lease area should be developed at a time and that each pit be fully reclaimed before any more development takes place, reads the report.
Any subsequent development also hinges on the results of noise-monitoring surveys.
Now that the assessment board has made its recommendations it’s up to the territorial government to make the final decision on how the quarry is developed.
“We really hope that Yukon government follows the recommendations that YESAB has proposed,” said Macdonald.
Once the government issues a decision document, the project will be cleared to move forward.
It’s already compliant with both the Official Community Plan and the city’s zoning bylaws, said Whitehorse city planner Ben Campbell.
Whitehorse, as a growing community, is hungry for gravel.
It’s essential for all kinds of construction and infrastructure maintenance. And while there are currently 12 active quarries within the city’s borders, some of the older ones are starting to become depleted.
“There’s been an increase in the number of spot applications for quarries within the city and that’s an indication that some of the major pit areas in McLean Lake and Ear Lake are starting to run out,” said Campbell.
The most recent studies of the Stevens area found that there is at least 2,350,000 cubic metres of both sand and gravel there.
“It could provide gravel for next 20 years for the city,” said Campbell.
The Stevens area has long been noted as a potential site for a quarry. Test pit work was first done since the 1970s, but it’s actually even older than that.
An archeological survey of the area in the ‘90s found evidence of prehistoric stone quarry.
One of the assessment board’s recommendations is that a detailed site investigation of the area be done to identify “any ethnographic moveable heritage resources.”
The department of Energy Mines and Resources is currently reviewing the report and will be coming out with its decision document in the next 30 days, said spokesman Ron Billingham.
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