Pipeline Road residents are frustrated with a city decision to allow a stone-cutting business to continue operating next to the Coquitlam River despite the fact the company has not been in compliance with land use regulations for years.
Bedrock Granite Sales has operated in northeast Coquitlam since the 1980s. But a few years ago, it was discovered that by bringing in stones from other properties to cut, the company was in contravention of its is A-3 agricultural zoning.
On Monday, council voted in favour of a text amendment that would change the land use and bring the company into compliance with the existing bylaws, a move that upset several residents at the meeting.
"I can assure you that if a resident violated zoning in any way, that resident would be stopped," said Bonnie Norquay, who lives up the road from the Bedrock property, which is owned by Allard Contractors Ltd. "I fail to understand how Bedrock was allowed to continue."
Elaine Golds, a biologist and member of the Burke Mountain Naturalists, also spoke against council's decision. She said that by allowing Bedrock to continue to operate next to the river, council is "retroactively endorsing this inappropriate use of the land."
"It is not appropriate," she said. "The proposed new use is clearly industrial and should not be allowed."
But Nathan Raymond, the principle owner of Bedrock, told council the company goes to great lengths to prevent any contamination of the river. He said there are several holding ponds on the site that keep all silt and sediment from running into the river, and that water used in the company's operations is completely recycled.
Raymond also noted that the company employs close to two dozen people and intends to invest more than $3 million in noise-mitigation efforts to appease residents in the area.
"We are committed to being a good neighbour," he said during the meeting.
A restrictive covenant placed on the property means that all cutting operations must be enclosed within a building and that business hours are restricted to 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Saturday .
While council voted in favour of the text amendment, the vote was not unanimous.
Coun. Bonita Zarrillo said that while she appreciated the fact Bedrock is providing jobs, it is important the city uphold its bylaws.
Mayor Richard Stewart also voted against the proposal, saying said he has issues with the fact the company would need to truck materials across the city and that he did not agree with an industrial use next to the Coquitlam River. "I don't want it to be easier to get forgiveness than permission," he said after the meeting. "This isn't where we would put that kind of industrial application if it wasn't there already."