Dear Gofundme Friends:
Thank you very much for you contributions to support our efforts.
Bighill Creek Preservation Society is still actively opposing the Mountain Ash Summit (MAPL) gravel mine. In concert with Friends of Big Hill Springs Provincial Park, we’ve undertaken public engagement with signage, handouts, Facebook and Instagram. We’ve encouraged supporters to send letters to Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP), via the minister Jason Nixon, his assistant deputy ministers and officials. Our Society has communicated continuously with Environment staff to encourage them to act as we believe that they have the authority and responsibility to proactively investigate the impact of this and the other gravel mines on Big Hill Springs groundwater.
Regulation of gravel mines in general and especially regarding groundwater impacts is a disjointed and superficial series of approvals. As you probably know six members of Rocky View County approved the land use designation in one day, through three readings in the face of overwhelming broad based and scientifically supported opposition. There is no appeal process.
MAPL’s evidence at the RVC hearing stated that their operations would change the flow of water to the Big Hill Springs. Nonetheless they claim they will not alter groundwater and dismissed evidence their mine will place groundwater and Big Hill Springs Provincial Park at risk.
This mine, as most others in the Province is required to apply to Alberta Environment for registration under the “Code of Practice for Pits”, a short document which describes standard operating requirements for dry pit. The “Code” makes no reference to groundwater. Information is normally provided by the applicant. We have not been able to determine if the public will receive any notice or be given opportunity to provide information to this process or if it will simply receive a “rubber stamp” approval.
Following the “Code” process, MAPL must apply to AEP for an authorisation under the Water Act to remove the sloughs on the property. Because they claim not to “alter” groundwater MAPL have stated that they will not apply for any groundwater impact approvals. Since December 2020, BCPS has attempted to encourage AEP to 1) require MALP to file a groundwater application, 2) provide public notice 3) receive and consider public input and 4) do their own investigation. We have sent AEP both Dr. Jon Fennell’s study of groundwater risks and the letter in opposition provided by Alberta Parks. (See bighillcreek.ca for both.)
If AEP determines they will not investigate ground water impacts, such a decision will be subject to appeal to the Environmental Appeals Board. This would will require legal support, be a lengthy and expensive process and will require funds you’ve most generously donated.
Our overarching concern is that if this mine and the others are approved, this risks and impacts to groundwater, Big Hill Springs Provincial Park and Bighill Creek cannot be effectively mitigated or ever repaired. The battle continues.
Thanks again for your support.