The MAPL lands (320 acres) were approved for gravel extraction by Rocky View County. The Mine would remove up to 25 meters of gravel, leaving only one meter to protect the groundwater. Our science says that this mines and the others would harm the aquifer which sustains Big Hill Springs Provincial Park. It will catalyse chemical leaching, releasing some of the same toxic compounds caused by open pit coal mines. It will increase the variability of recharge to the aquifer and risk an increase in turbidity in the spring water.
MAPL has now submitted its application the Alberta Environment and Parks for removal of the sloughs on the property. MAPL’s hydrogeological studies admitted their project would alter recharge of the groundwater which would require a further application for such impact. However MAPL is on record that they not make this application. BCPS and others have implored AEP to investigate the potential harm to the aquifer and the Park by forcing MAPL to apply.
AEP provided an opportunity for concerned citizens to submit “Statements of Concern” from “Directly Affected Parties” in response to the MAPL application. The window for submissions closed on XXXX. AEP received about 270 Statements of Concern. AEP has since been processing the submissions to determine which, by their definition are from those “directly affected”. This process may take a couple of more weeks.
(Normally this would only include immediate neighbours.) BCPS assumes we will be included as an AP due to our activities preserving the watershed, and an initiation to participate.
The approved Statements of Concern authored by Directly Affected Parties will be provided to MAPL. Then…. “The Applicant has the ability/responsibility to consider the concerns and provide a response to the Directly Affected individuals. AEP receives and reviews the Applicant’s response and determines if it is adequate or not, but please note that AEP is not directly involved with the communication between the Applicant and the Directly Affected Individuals, but does receive copies of the Applicant’s responses.” There is no further opportunity for input from opposing parties.
The AEP will review the Applicants response to Statements of Concern. AEP experts provide their own analysis which will further informal a decision to approve or deny. Either the Applicant or an Affected Party may appeal the decision to the Environmental Appeal Board, with the final result determined by the Minister -currently Jason Nixon.
BCPS in its Statement of Concern requested that the application be denied. In brief; the science says the MAPL mine would harm the aquifer, and place the Park and it nationally recognized Tufa formation and Bighill Creek at risk. It will provide no net economic benefit given widely available gravel resources in dramatically less ecologically sensitive areas. Development of the other lands totalling almost two square miles held by gravel interest will magnify the negative impacts.
While we await a decision from AEP, BCPS will continue our work in creating a State of the Watershed plan. And we’ll keep you updated.