Rachelle Stein-Wotten

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure says while they have no current plans to extract gravel from Barrett Quarry Pit, they still want it available in the future.

The 40-acre parcel on Gabriola Island is the subject of a campaign by the Gabriola Land and Trails Trust (GaLTT) and Gabriola Island Memorial Society (GIMS) to have the Regional District of Nanaimo acquire the area, known locally as Honeysuckle Woods, from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and make it parkland. They envision a no-cash transfer similar to how the S’ul-hween X’pey (Elder Cedar) Nature Reserve was created in 2006.

In a statement, MOTI told the Sounder “it’s important to have a gravel source on the island and place for potential stockpiling in the event of a major road project on Gabriola” to avoid barging materials over.

While the ministry has “currently no plans to develop this site” it said “since gravel resources are challenging to find on Gulf Islands, the ministry prefers to maintain access to potential sources that are considered valuable for future use for maintenance or major projects.”

The ministry has a second pit on Gabriola, the Degnen Pit, located at Degnen and South roads. A 1994 provincial file on the Barrett Road Quarry/Pit noted “limited gravel and sand extraction potential may exist.”

GaLTT and GIMS are collecting signatures for a petition to make Honeysuckle Woods, an area of mature Douglas-fir forest and cliff habitat with informal trails throughout, primarily a park with 5 acres reserved for a natural burial cemetery. The petition will be submitted to Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA Doug Routley for presentation in the BC Legislature, according to the two organizations.

“As MLA, I’ve had the opportunity to meet with and hear from Gabriola community members on this issue, and in recent years toured the site with residents sharing their thoughts and ideas,” Routley said in a statement to the Sounder. “As the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has oversight on this property, I’ve worked to share the community’s thoughts and ideas with the ministry, and will continue to listen to their feedback on this topic.”

Since an initial meeting with the ministry in 2022 that GaLTT and GIMS characterize as “positive,” the ministry has erected no trespassing signs around the site, which the ministry says “are required by law to prevent inadvertent access and protect public safety.”

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