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Davie Bay activists ready for long haul

Activists challenging the B.C. government on a quarry development on Texada Island are in it to win.

"If our petition to the B.C. government is not accepted by the court, then we would probably take the same action against the federal government," said John Dove, spokesman for Friends of Davie Bay (FODB).

"If we can stall the project for the next couple of years, we'd be happy to do that."

On June 26, Dove and FODB members filed a court challenge in the B.C. Supreme Court against the B.C. government, asking for a judicial review of the BC Environmental Assessment Office's decision not to assess a proposed quarry on the island.

The group is concerned that the project will compromise the natural beauty and ecological integrity of the island, including caves that produce rare stalactites.

In May 2009, Lehigh Hansen, a cement and building supplies company, applied for permits to open the 7.6-hectare quarry on crown land on the south end of the island, a project the company says would extract 240,000 tonnes of stone per year.

But the FOBD says the operation is capable of producing much more than that stated amount, possibly as much as one million tonnes per year, said Dove. And according to B.C. law (Reviewable Project Regulation, B.C. Reg. 370/2002), projects with a capacity of more than 250,000 tonnes per year require an environmental assessment.

In May, FODB received an Environmental Dispute Resolution Fund grant from West Coast Environmental Law to fund their challenge to the government.

The group has a good chance of achieving an assessment for the site, said David Perry of Singleton-Urquhart, the lawyer representing FODB. However, he's cautiously optimistic that things will swing in their favour. "I always tell me clients that 50 per cent is your best chance, and it goes down from there," Perry told the Tyee.

Even though legal proceedings could go on for the next five months, Dove told the Tyee he's motivated to battle the development on his island, whatever it takes.

"We're fighting to protect Davie Bay for future generations," said Dove.

The Tyee tried to reach Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Minister Bill Bennett for comment, but was unable to reach him in Calgary.

Justin Langille reports on the landscape of work for The Tyee.

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