|Looking south across lower part of reclamation site.|
It's clear the landscape has been considerably altered by the decades-long extraction of gravel from the site, and that Lafarge's current reclamation project is a massive undertaking.
How massive? Costs for security alone, including a 24-hour-a-day, two-person crew, are $1.5-million a year. Overall costs are a company secret.
As we trundle up the rough road, Nick Leuzinger, Operations Manager, GVA Aggregates; Chen Mei, VP Aggregates, Greater Vancouver Aggregates Division; and Patrick Dobbyn, Land & Resource Manager (and the man who arranged this early-December tour), point to areas where work needs to be done: hillsides have to be stabilized to the extent that, ironically for a site from which thousands upon thousands of truckloads of aggregate were extracted, structural fill has to be trucked into the site.
Coincidental to my tour (which was sparked by the wrapping up of the Coquitlam River Aggregate Advisory Committee, which I had chaired), the company's request for a Conservation Permit, to facilitate its reclamation work, will be before Council on Monday, Dec. 5. Please click here to read the report.
Operating as Coquitlam Sand and Gravel, Lafarge Canada Inc. was, for many years, one of the major aggregate-industry operators along the Coquitlam River. However, after costs to operate the company's 37-hectare pit on Pipeline Road became too high due to the high level of fine sediments in the gravel deposits, the company decided to cease operations on the site.
Lafarge is now in the midst of a major reclamation project at the site, one whose goal is to stabilize the site and return it to a safe, natural state, removing all general structures and roads, disposing of fuels and other toxic materials, delineating the watershed and improving drainage, and instituting a re-vegetation plan.
|Entrace to "hidden valley" of reclaimed main pit.|
|Hillside of reclaimed main pit: Look closely to see four deer.|
Of special note are two features. First is the new Mantle Creek watercourse that Lafarge is constructing. Designed to mimic natural flowing patterns, the new watercourse will be built to handle the most extreme rainfalls. Especially impressive are the extensive rock-works (aka rip-rap) and holding pond at the base of the new course.
Second is the Main Dig Site in the upper (southwest) corner of the site. Lafarge's extraction of millions of tonnes of material has created a massive, crater-shaped, amphitheatre-like valley which, now that it has been re-vegetated, is already home to a herd of rambunctious black-tailed deer.
|At base of new Mantle Creek.|
One can imagine that, decades in the future, the valley will be a favourite destination for picnickers or maybe even the site of al-fresco concerts, with thousands of spectators lining the valley slopes.
For now, though, the entire site is off-limits to the public. Movie-goers will, however, have a chance to see some of the site's spectacular, steep and forested lands next summer when the latest Planet of the Apes instalment, War for the Planet of the Apes, is released; the production spent several months shooting on location this past summer, going so far as to build a fort at the top of a steep ravine that forms part of the future Mantle Creek watercourse.
*Long-term plans for the site are uncertain, as the property is outside Metro Vancouver's urban-containment boundary and, as such, is also not part of Coquitlam's Northwest Burke Visioning process.