GoFundMe Change of Direction

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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.

Gerry Bietz


It is important to act now!

Three main points:

1. The Park is closed and if the springs are compromised and ooze pollutants or contaminants it could be closed indefinitely.

2. The map shows that if this pit goes ahead then a huge piece of the basin could become a mine as well.

3. The government of Alberta has serious questions and concerns about these gravel pits and there is great concern that attempts are being made to keep these concerns from the public. Visit the Instagram account, savebighillspringspark

Please click here to see the petition.
Save Big Hill Springs Provincial Park petition

There are over 1,500 signatures and every time someone signs, an email goes to every councillor and the MLA and the minister of the environment.

This outrageous attack on the Big Hill Springs Park is being heard by Albertans and they are rushing to support its defence.

Share the word.

Gravel and Parks Don’t Mix

Happy Friday everyone!
We are excited to let you know we are starting our signage campaign to help bring awareness to what is going on! If you want to help support us please consider donating
Or let us know if you want to participate by putting up some signs at your home.

gravel awareness

Please Defend Alberta Parks

Bighill Spring Park – Please Defend Alberta Parks – Update Here is an interesting and timely article that was in this morning’s Herald.


Is Calgary Growth Founded on Ethical Gravel?

Calgary Herald
Letters to the Editor
For Publication

March 11, 2021

Is Calgary’s Growth Founded on Ethical Gravel?

No matter the development, be it residential, high rise, ring road or LRT extension, Calgary’s growth is gravel dependent. But, is this gravel ethically sourced? Much of it comes short haul and therefore dirt cheap from neighbouring Rocky View County where 20 pits supply Calgary. Soon Pit 21 will be added, but at a terrible cost.

At a recent “virtual” hearing where Rocky View Council dismissed over 100 opposing submissions, hearing only from the proponent, the first of four new mines was approved that stand to kill the springs that have created one of the Calgary area’s oldest, most iconic parks at Big Hill Springs. Springs destruction could affect half the flow into Big Hill Creek, threatening trout habitat, a lovely Cochrane stream and Calgary’s drinking water. Soon Calgary could be building with gravel from the Mountain Ash mine, situated on the park’s boundary and on the spring’s aquifer.  A pit producing unethical gravel.

Big Hill’s springs are ranked by Parks Canada as one of the top four mineral springs in Canada. They will be forever altered by a gravel mine virtually on top of them. Over thousands of years the springs have released minerals forming the rare tufa rock that water so prettily flows over and makes this small park such a local attraction. To destroy a park for common gravel is unconscionable and Calgarians should be appalled. They should also take action by making their views known to Alberta Environment Minister, Jason Nixon.


Vivian Pharis
V.P. Bighill Creek Preservation Society
Box 609
Cochrane, AB, T4C 1A7
403 932 2124

Results from March Second RVC council hearing

Rocky View Council Puts Gravel Before Parks, March 5,2021


Marlin Schmidt NDP Environment Critic Letter to Council

Marlin Schmidt NDP Environment Critic Letter to Council

Calgary Herald’s article published on Saturday, February 20th 2021


Bighill Creek is a Critical Wildlife Corridor

Submission to Bylaw C-8051-2020, PL 20200031, Application by Mt. Ash LP to redesignate agricultural land to industrial for purposes of gravel mining.

This submission is designed to show the importance of maintaining Bighill Creek, its critical springs and the provincial park that depend on the valley and the springs, as significant and rare intact habitat for the free-flow of biological organisms within Rocky View County.

Biological corridors are critical for the maintenance of ecological processes including allowing for the movement of organisms and the continuation of viable populations. By providing landscape connections between larger areas of habitat, corridors enable migration, colonisation and interbreeding of plants and animals.

The map below is taken from RVC’s 2011 Parks and Open Space Master Plan, which was based on earlier work done by the provincial Environmentally Significant Areas program. It indicates the presence of a significant inter-connected environmentally sensitive corridor connecting the Bow River, up through Bighill Springs Valley and on to Nose Hill and Dog Pound drainages and interspersed natural sites amongst agricultural land.

Click for full image.

The “Grand Valley Foothills” stand out amongst RVC’s five geographic regions as the only region with an opportunity for interconnecting wildlife and all local biological organisms with important natural landscapes. Nowhere else in RVC is there a similar critical corridor – this one is unique and precious and not the place for industrial developments.RVC in the Global Biodiversity Context According to the 2019 Global Risks Report, biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse are amongst the greatest risks facing society. Biodiversity underpins human life and is responsible for ecosystem services that we fully depend upon, including food production, crop pollination, clean water, nutrient and waste recycling and regulating climate change. Humans depend on ecosystems for our economic sustainability as well as sustaining our physical and mental health. The United Nations is calling on all countries to protect 30% of their natural landscapes by 2030 and Canada has committed to protecting 25% by 2025. Such protection has to include responsibilities at the municipalities level or it will fail. Failure means disaster for ALL life on this planet. RVC needs to develop policy addressing biodiversity health.

RVC Wildlife ObligationsCorridors for biodiversity serve a number of purposes including protecting wildlife and helping animal populations thrive. They function as means to decrease human-animal conflict in the form of vehicle-animal collisions and help combat the negative effects of habitat fragmentation.

There are possibilities for identifying and establishing key interconnecting corridors linking the two biologically active valleys of the Bow River and Bighill Creek. Highway 1A between Calgary and Cochrane is recognized as the most notorious large animal killing route in Alberta, because it is such an important connector between these two valleys. It is incumbent upon RVC to stop this highway slaughter and conserve wildlife through identifying, establishing and maintaining movement corridors between the two valleys and across the highway. These north-south corridors go on to connect with those identified as significant, through the length of Bighill Creek and beyond.Threats to Bighill Creek Key Biodiversity Corridor .

Today 4 gravel mines are proposed on lands immediately NW of the nationally significant springs that are the crux of Big Hill Springs Provincial Park. These springs contribute 50% of the water that flows through the creek that enriches the steep-sided coulee with its rich habitats on either side, all the way to Cochrane and the Bow River. Industrialization of an important component of the Bighill Creek Biodiversity Corridor not only threatens the viability of the unique springs and the provincial park that depends upon them, but of critical habitat for the endangered Bull Trout, the enjoyment of thousands of park visitors and a key connection route for many wildlife and plant species that depend on the area to move through. Rocky View County has to date neglected both its remaining natural landscapes and its residents who move to the county looking for natural spaces, interconnecting nature trails and park provisions. Four new gravel mines covering 2 square miles located on the aquifer of the springs that feed the park, could not be in a more environmentally sensitive place in all of RVC.

Conclusion There is no doubt in my mind and likely the minds of most RVC residents that gravel mines on rare aquifers and on the most environmentally sensitive biodiversity corridor in all of RVC, are truly inappropriate. RVC is underlain by a great deal of gravel. There have to be less sensitive sites for the mining of gravel, certainly sites that are not atop ancient aquifers or within critical wildlife corridors.

Submitted by Vivian Pharis