What’s New?

“Why here? Can’t you get gravel somewhere else?”

Through the course of the Public Information Sessions in Squamish, Gibsons and West Vancouver we had the opportunity to speak to many people interested in the Project and one of the questions we heard often was, “Why here? Can’t you get gravel somewhere else?”. We fully understand and respect that this question stems from people’s love and appreciation for the beauty of the area. We appreciate it as well, just as we appreciate the special attributes of every area where we operate. One reason our employees live where they do is because of their appreciation for their environment whether that be the unending vistas of wheat and canola fields in the prairies, the rolling hills and mountains of the Foothills and Rockies, the lush green valley of the Okanagan or the natural beauty of the Lower Mainland and Howe Sound. With over 100 years of operations under our belt we have always, and will always continue to respect the areas where we operate. We feel confident we can co-exist within all of our natural environments, make respectful, environmentally sensitive interim use of our sites, and leave behind lands in either as good or better condition than we found them. And that is definitely the case in this Project.

So ultimately the answer to that question is yes, we can get gravel elsewhere, and we will, but that doesn’t negate our commitment to this Project as well. Sourcing good gravel deposits is always top of mind for BURNCO. In fact as soon as we permit one project we are on the lookout for another in order to meet the constant demand for gravel and ensure a steady supply of aggregate to the market. To put it into perspective, the volume of aggregate we are applying to mine through this project is up to 20 million tonnes, which by itself wouldn’t even fulfill the need required in the Lower Mainland for one year — 30 million tonnes. So that said, we are seeking other locations, and take many different factors into consideration through the process. Unfortunately gravel isn’t found everywhere. And once a deposit is covered by development, it is lost forever thus limiting from where we can access it.

In respect to this Project, there are many reasons this particular site was chosen, reasons we believe eliminate concerns that we might encounter elsewhere. It is because of these reasons that we have pursued this project, engaging independent scientists to study the area to help us best understand the issues, and develop a project we can take pride in.

- The area from which the aggregates are proposed to be extracted is a flat terrain, easily concealed by a berm and tree buffer meaning the excavation area will not be seen (it’s not on the side of a mountain) from any perspective other than by air.

- The processing area on site can also be concealed by three layers of buffer – 50 foot tall stockpiles, 30 foot tall berm, and 150 foot tall existing tree buffer which means the noise from the site will not be significant.

- The deposit is amid groundwater which means we can extract it with a floating clam shell dredge and bring the product up wet mitigating the dust we have in other operations.

- Existing BC Hydro transmission lines are on-site which means we can run our machinery electrically reducing greenhouse gas emissions that would be present on another site, also contributing to a reduction in noise.

- The processed gravel will be shipped to market via barge, an option we don’t have at most sites we consider, but one that makes a big difference from the perspective of greenhouse gas emissions, efficiency and cost. An inland site would require 416 trucks per every barge load of gravel, that’s a lot of truck traffic.

- The proximity of the site to Vancouver and the Lower Mainland means the final cost of the gravel used to build our roads, schools, hospitals and homes will be lower.

This site adjacent to McNab Creek is one that when we purchased it had been a location of heavy industrial use for over 100 years. We have already started the clean-up of the land, in fact we recently barged out over 1,000 tires that were strewn about by previous owners. We believe we can continue to have a major impact on the clean-up of our site, and influence future uses of the area at reclamation when all we’ll leave behind is a fresh water lake.

As a fourth generation, private, Canadian company we feel confident we are the right company to pursue this project. We are Canadians committed to protecting the beauty of our country while providing a much needed product to help us continue to grow and fuel our economy.



BURNCO Rock Products Ltd today announced it has completed more than seven years of independent scientific studies and has now submitted the application to both the provincial and federal government regulators for the BURNCO Aggregate Project in Howe Sound.

“We have developed a plan with input from Government, Aboriginal Groups, scientists and the public for this project and have considered the comments and concerns raised to improve our approach and build an environmentally responsible proposal,” said Mike Powell, CEO of BURNCO. “We took the feedback we received through our public consultation efforts, engaged numerous experts in their field to assess each potential effect and concern and made many changes to improve our project.”

“BURNCO is committed to avoiding, reducing or otherwise mitigating potential effects of our proposal through design features, best management practices and other mitigation measures,” said Powell. “The conclusion of our exhaustive studies is that, with the application of design considerations and identified mitigation, no significant adverse effects will result.”

The application has been filed with both the Provincial (EAO) and Federal (CEAA) regulatory bodies. The results of the scientific studies are contained within the application and are available below and on the EAO and CEAA websites. Electronic versions of the application will be available for viewing at the following libraries: Gibsons and District Public Library, Bowen Island Public Library, West Vancouver Memorial Library, Squamish Public Library and Sechelt Public Library.

Environmental Assessment Certificate Application/Environmental Impact Statement (EAC Application/EIS) for the Proposed BURNCO Aggregate Project (July 2016)

Stand-Alone Summaries

PART A – Introduction and Background

  • Table of Contents
  • Table of Concordance
  • Preface to the EAC Application/EIS
  • Acronyms and Abbreviations
  • Executive Summary
  • 1.0 Purposed of the EAC Application/EIS
  • 2.0 Proposed Project Overview
  • 3.0 Assessment Process

PART B – Assessment of Potential Effects, Including Cumulative Effects, Proposed Mitigation Measures, and the Significance of any Residual Effects

PART C – Aboriginal Information Requirements

  • 10.0 Background Information
  • 11.0 Assessment of Potential Effects on Aboriginal Rights, including Current Use
  • 12.0 Other Aboriginal Interests
  • 13.0 Aboriginal Consultation
  • 14.0 Summary of Potential Effects on Aboriginal Rights, including Current Use

PART D – Federal Information Requirements

  • 15.0 Requirements for Federal Environmental Assessments

PART E – Environmental Management

  • 16.0 Environmental Management Program
  • 17.0 Environmental Monitoring and Follow-Up Programs

PART F – Conclusions and Commitments

  • 18.0 Summary of Residual Effects
  • 19.0 Summary of Commitments and Assurances
  • 20.0 Conclusion

PART G – References and Appendices

Public Open Houses will be held within the 45-day formal Public Comment Period. Notification of those Open Houses will appear in the following newspapers: The Local, Sunshine Coast Reporter, The Chief, The North Shore News and Bowen Island Undercurrent.

Public Notice Ad


Application Information Requirements/Environmental Impact Statement (AIR/EIS) Guidelines Approved

The BC Environmental Assessment Office (BCEAO) and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEA Agency) have issued the final approved AIR/EIS Guidelines which describe the questions that are to be answered and the information to be contained in an Environmental Assessment Certificate Application for the proposed BURNCO Aggregate Project.  In finalizing this document, the BCEAO and the CEA Agency considered comments received from the public, government agencies and First Nations, BURNCO’s written responses to issues raised, and revisions made to the draft AIR/EIS Guidelines in response to these issues and concerns.

The following documentation of the AIR/EIS Guideline review and approval is available through the BCEAO website:

Approved AIR/EIS Guidelines for the Proposed BURNCO Aggregate Project

 Documentation of Technical Working Group Review

 Documentation of Public Review


Project Update

There have been some revisions to the BURNCO Aggregate Project since last fall when we presented our project at a series of Public Open Houses.

Although the components of the proposed Project remain the same, there have been refinements to the size and orientation of some of these components following more detailed engineering design of the processing area and the associated system of tunnels and above ground conveyors.  The nature, extent, and rationale for these changes are being provided to the provincial and federal government agencies responsible for reviewing the Project.  Click here to see a copy of our letter describing and illustrating the changes.

The letter also provides some of the key revisions to the Application Information Requirements that have been made in response to comments received from the Aboriginal groups, the Technical Working Group and the public.

These recent refinements do not affect the scope of the Project for the purpose of the ongoing environmental assessment.  In light of these refinements, potential air quality, noise and visual quality effects of the proposed Project have been re-modelled and re-assessed.  The proposed changes will be reflected in the revised Application Information Requirements/Environmental Impact Statement Guidelines (AIR/EIS Guidelines), and the subsequent Environmental Assessment Certificate Application/Environmental Impact Statement (EAC Application/EIS), once submitted.


Ongoing Education

BURNCO is pleased to participate in and support adult education initiatives in the community.


Public Open House Report

To view the Open House report that was prepared and submitted to the Province, please click below.

Public Open House Report – Dec 2013



Shoreline Clean Up 2013

On Saturday, September 21, 2013 the BURNCO Crew set out to clean up Hopkins Landing Beach as part of the Great Canadian Shoreline Clean-Up.  We were a team of 9 adults and 5 children armed with rubber gloves and black garbage bags set loose on the one kilometre long stretch of beach.

Comparative to last year’s clean up, we found Hopkins Landing Beach quite clean.  One of the waterfront homeowners noticed our efforts and came out to thank us, encouraged that together as a team we can ensure a healthy shoreline.

In the end we collected nearly 26 pounds of debris, the most interesting, and heavy of which was an inflatable dinghy.  Otherwise, we collected 11 cigarette butts, 1 food wrapper, 2 takeout containers, 8 beverage cans, 6 plastic grocery bags, 8 cups/plates, 5 articles of clothing, 6 pieces of construction material, and one cigarette lighter.

The Sunshine Coast Regional District arranged to have our collected garbage disposed of at the landfill.

We all came away with a greater appreciation for the importance of the proper disposal of garbage and litter so that it doesn’t put our waterfront at risk.  The children in particular were proud of their efforts to improve our coastal waters.


What’s in it for me?

So what’s in it for me?  That’s always the question top of mind when a proposal like BURNCO’s Howe Sound Sand and Gravel project comes forward.  In most cases the benefit to the proponent applying for the permits is obvious — an opportunity to do business and meet a supply demand in the market.  But oftentimes residents in the proposed area are left asking themselves ‘but what’s in it for me?’

In this situation, there are inherent benefits involved in the local extraction of sand and gravel.  Aggregate is a non-renewable resource upon which we have all come to depend.  At this point in time there isn’t an obvious alternative product for the construction of roads and bridges, or for schools and hospitals, and ultimately the foundations for our homes.  And with the high density population here in the Lower Mainland, aggregate is forever a much needed commodity.  Mining it close to where its needed is key to keeping the ultimate price of the product down, and ensuring a ready supply to support the change and growth of our communities.

In fact, 10 to 15 tonnes of aggregate are consumed for every BC resident every year.  That equates to 30 million tonnes of sand and gravel needed in the Lower Mainland every year, which is enough to fill BC Place stadium with gravel 10 times over.

At one million tonnes per year from this project BURNCO Rock Products, a fourth generation Canadian company, will only contribute to filling that need, not even come close to completely supplying it.

Although crucial to our quality of life, that need for gravel can be hard to relate to and appreciate as individuals.

So more direct benefits are important to mention.

As a landowner and local business to the Sunshine Coast, BURNCO Rock Products will be large contributor to the local tax base.

Once under the construction, BURNCO will hire trades locally whenever possible, and will also buy materials locally.

Then once operational, BURNCO will be hiring 12 full-time employees to work on-site.  Those will be 12 well paid positions that ultimately will have a positive influence on 12 families on the Sunshine Coast, as BURNCO intends to hire those positions locally.

And in addition to those 12 positions, an operation such as the one BURNCO is proposing will require further support from other private companies and individuals injecting $13 million into the local economy each year.  Barge operators to transport the product and contractors required on-site are resident to the Sunshine Coast and will benefit from this project.  Furthermore, a trickle down effect already has been, and will continue to be seen by local businesses for accommodation, meals, transportation and support.

In its 100 years in business, BURNCO has earned a reputation as a good corporate citizen.  BURNCO’s owners, management and employees care about the communities in which they own land and do business.  That caring not only means contributing to a community as one of its citizens, volunteering to make it a better place, but also financially by providing community amenities that will benefit people in the area.  BURNCO has a corporate contributions plan that will be customized to the needs of the Sunshine Coast and its neighbours.

And from an environmental perspective, BURNCO feels confident that through four years of intensive, independent environmental studies it has a very good understanding of the area and the issues.  As owners of the property near McNab Creek which has long been a heavy industrial site, and now long neglected, BURNCO has and will continue to be stewards of the area.  BURNCO has planted 60,000 trees through the property where it had been clear cut and abandoned.  As part of the project a malfunctioning spawning channel will be reconstructed to better fit the natural surroundings, ultimately enhancing fisheries in the area.  And contaminants and debris left behind by previous owners will be cleaned up and remediated.

In the end, a freshwater lake will fill the mined area, providing a place for more recreational adventures in the Howe Sound.

BC is arguably the most beautiful places to call home in the country.  Inevitably it will continue to develop and change.  BURNCO is a Canadian company who appreciates that.  The company’s employees live, work and play here.  BURNCO is committed to the communities in which it does business and has the experience and integrity needed to manage this project in an environmentally and socially responsible manner.


Shoreline Clean Up 2012

On September 22, 2012 a crew of 19 BURNCO employees and their families descended upon Gibsons Marina to volunteer in the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup.

According to the official Cleanup website, every year, tens of thousands of Canadians take action against aquatic debris by participating in the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, presented by Loblaw Companies Limited. Jointly led by the Vancouver Aquarium and WWF, this initiative focuses on educating and empowering people to make a difference through community cleanup events.  Today, the Shoreline Cleanup is one of the largest environmental events in Canada and the third largest cleanup in the world. Awareness and support for the program grows each year, dramatically increasing our impact as the public starts to better understand how shoreline litter adversely affects both aquatic life and people.

The BURNCO Crew organized the cleanup for Gibsons Harbour that stretched to either side of the marina, from the government dock to the breakwater.  Upon first inspection, the shoreline looked quite clean, however, as we got in there we found a lot of debris.

Because we had some children on our crew, our tally numbers are lower than our actual amount collected as there were things being put into garbage bags that weren’t being accounted for.  However, from what we did account, we tallied:

46 plastic bags, 37 beverage bottles, 11 glass beverage bottles, 54 beverage cans, 9 caps, lids, 6 clothing/shoes, 7 cups, plates, forks, knives, spoons, 35 food wrappers, 35 straws/stirrers, 6 toys, 4 bleach/cleaner bottles, 32 floats (styrofoam), 1 fishing line, 1 light bulb, 1 pallet, 30 plastic sheeting/tarps, 25 ropes, 3 strapping bands, 205 cigarette butts, 3 cigar tips, 2 batteries, 32 nails, 1 condom, 1 syringe, 3 feminine products, 13 metal pieces, 1 paint can

What was most evident was the amount of styrofoam that littered the coast, caught in grass and reeds and nestled between rocks in the breakwater.  Styrofoam will not decompose thus the crew was happy to be able to remove it from our coastline.

Our crew enjoyed our beautiful and sunny day in Gibsons and will most certainly be interested in doing the same again next year for the 20th anniversary of the Shoreline Clean Up.


Reclamation and Rehabilitation

Guess what Butchart Gardens in Victoria and Queen Elizabeth Gardens in Vancouver have in common? They were both former quarries.

Most British Columbians know Butchart Gardens well for its year round display of flowering plants and its ability to draw nearly a million visitors a year. What many of us don’t know is it was once a limestone quarry. Jennie Butchart may very well have been a pioneer in the realm of aggregate quarry rehabilitation. The history of the Gardens is well documented on its website www.butchartgardens.com

“In 1888, near his birthplace, Owen Sound, Ontario, the former dry goods merchant, Robert Pim Butchart, began manufacturing Portland cement. By the turn of the century he had become a highly successful pioneer in this burgeoning North American industry. Attracted to the West Coast of Canada by rich limestone deposits vital for cement production, he built a factory at Tod Inlet, on Vancouver Island. There, in 1904, he and his family established their home.

As Mr. Butchart exhausted the limestone in the quarry near their house, his enterprising wife, Jennie, conceived an unprecedented plan for refurbishing the bleak pit. From farmland nearby she requisitioned tons of top soil, had it brought to Tod Inlet by horse and cart, and used it to line the floor of the abandoned quarry. Little by little, under Jennie Butchart’s  supervision, the abandoned quarry blossomed into the spectacular Sunken Garden.

By 1908, reflecting their world travels, the Butcharts had created a Japanese Garden on the sea-side of their home. Later an Italian Garden was created on the site of their former tennis court, and a fine Rose Garden replaced a large kitchen vegetable patch in 1929.”

Queen Elizabeth Park, another of the Lower Mainland’s gems, was once a basalt quarry that provided the foundation rock for many miles of early Vancouver roads in the early 1900’s. It has since been transformed into Vancouver’s second most visited park.

More recently LaFarge Lake, located in Town Centre Park in Coquitlam, was rehabilitated from its beginnings as a sand and gravel pit to a public park in the 1970’s. The lake is stocked and accessible for public fishing.

Albert Dyck Lake in Abbotsford, once an aggregate pit, now hosts numerous national and provincial waterskiing and wakeboarding tournaments and has parking, a beach volleyball court, open grass areas and a swim area.

BURNCO is proposing to build, through the McNab Aggregate Project, a freshwater lake with similar values as the reclamation projects mentioned above.  The lake will be near both a creek and the ocean providing a beautiful landscape that has many possibilities.

For further examples of rehabilitated aggregate pits please click here.


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