The Baldy Ridge Extension project increases the disturbance area of Teck’s Elkview coal mine by 862 hectares. File photo

Committee to oversee expansion of Teck coal mine in Sparwood

Socio-Community Economics Effects Advisory Committee formed; plus other District of Sparwood news

The creation of an advisory committee to oversee a mine expansion in Sparwood marks a new chapter in the town’s mining history.

Teck Coal is currently in the post-certification stage of the Environmental Assessment process for the Baldy Ridge Extension (BRE) project at Elkview Operations.

The project will extend the overall life of the steelmaking coal mine until 2045 and increases the disturbance area of the operation by 862 hectares.

The creation of a Socio-Community Economics Effects Advisory Committee (SCEEAC) is a requirement of Condition 21 of Teck’s Environmental Assessment Certificate for the BRE project.

It’s part of a broader plan to better understand and provide recommendation for the management of community impacts on Sparwood related to the BRE project.

At the December 3 regular meeting of council, the District of Sparwood established the SCEEAC, adopted the Terms of Reference and appointed the 12 committee members who will represent the District, Teck and the community.

The SCEEAC consists of: Councillors Jason Christensen and Joe Jarina, Don Sander (Elkview Operations General Manager), Nic Milligan (Teck’s Manager of Social Responsibility), Chris Stroich (Elkview Operations Environmental Superintendent), and volunteer community members Allison Burton, Don Crawford, John Ralph, Keenan Adams, Maeve Scannell, Tracey Brook-Baker, and Wes Pinsent.

The SCEEAC will receive information from Teck as well as community input and feedback.

It will also review plans and propose adjustments to the mitigation measures for various impacts that BRE has on the Sparwood community. These could include visual impacts, noise, blasting/vibration and dust.

Another role of the SCEEAC will be to take part in the Livability Study, which was initiated in September and will continue into the summer of 2019.

The study will evaluate the quality of life in Sparwood and its relation to mining operations. A consultant has been appointed and public engagement is anticipated to start in January.

Teck and the District are expected to release a joint statement regarding SCEEAC this week. Learn more about Condition 21, the advisory committee, and the livability study at Sparwood.ca/livable.

Other District of Sparwood news

RCMP presents quarterly statistics

Break and enters are on the rise across the Elk Valley, according to the latest quarterly report from the RCMP.

On December 3, Senior Sergeant Jeff Harrold presented the quarterly crime statistics for July to September to Sparwood council.

During the third quarter, there were 29 break and enters reported to the RCMP, compared to 15 last year. Harrold said a number of these occurred at a storage facility, while thefts from vehicles remained a big issue across the Valley.

Other notable trends were an increase in liquor and drinking and driving offences. Harrold saw this as a positive and attributed it to increased enforcement.

Overall, the RCMP received 383 calls for service in the third quarter compared to 339 last year.

Harrold said the RCMP continues to work on priorities identified in spring. These include prolific offenders.

“We’ve had some success on that, we’ve had some folks move out of town. (they) just didn’t like the attention they were receiving,” said Harrold.

“Aggressive driving, that’s speeding but more importantly the dangerous driving, the passing on solid lines and passing on corners and that sort of thing… we continue to work on that.”

Impaired drivers and school zones are other priorities for the RCMP.

Mayor David Wilks requested an update from Harrold on speeding along Michel Creek Rd.

Harrold said police monitored traffic in the area for three to four days, netting a number of speeders.

The RCMP will continue to monitor the area and is in talks with Teck Coal about buying speed trackers to aid enforcement.

“We can sit in the one spot for hours and hours and hours, and get no speeders, not a very effective use of our time,” said Harrold.

“I’ve had lots of experience with these in the previous 20 years in Saskatchewan and they’re fantastic.”

Indoor soccer pitch funding

The District of Sparwood will seek funding from the Canadian and British Columbia governments to build an indoor soccer pitch.

At the December 3 regular meeting, council voted in favour of submitting an application to Community, Culture and Recreation (CCR) Infrastructure program.

The CCR program is designed to support infrastructure projects that improve access to or increase the quality of cultural, recreational and community infrastructure.

An indoor soccer pitch and walking track is a pet project of Sparwood Mayor David Wilks, who shared his priorities with The Free Press in October after being re-elected.

If the District’s grant application is successful, the federal government will cover 40 per cent of the project costs, with the Province chipping in 33.33 per cent and the municipality 26.67 per cent.

Council also approved a 2019 operational budget expenditure of $30,000 to engage a consultant to prepare the grant application.

The next regular council meeting will be held in Council Chambers on Monday, December 17 at 6 p.m.

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