In follow up to our earlier communication regarding potential impacts of proposed gravel extraction near Big Hill Springs Provincial Park: attached is a recent update from Gravel Watch regarding the judicial review of the County approvals process. In short the County has been told their process is significantly inadequate. We expect the proponents will reapply under whatever new guidelines are established.
Subject: Residents Win Judicial Review of Hwy 567 Gravel Pit Approvals – County Appeals
The Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench ruled in favour of the residents in the judicial review of the gravel pit applications along Hwy 567. The applications had been approved by Rocky View Council in 2017.
The judge’s ruling included the following key points:
- That “no reasonable council would proceed in the circumstances of the obviously deficient applications.”
- That Rocky View Council erred in failing to consider the cumulative impacts of gravel extraction in the area when it made its decisions;
- That the magnitude and obviousness of the defects in the applicants’ Master Site Development Plans were a “very serious and patently unreasonable departure” from what the County Plan requires in MSDPs; and
- That the Council could not comply with its obligations to consider relevant factors by deferring decisions to the development authority.
The judge’s decision makes it very clear that cumulative impacts of multiple gravel pits located close to each other must be considered and that future MSDPs need to include sufficient information “for meaningful decision making and public input”. The victory means that before any new gravel pits go ahead on Hwy 567, the gravel companies have to reapply and new public hearings have to be held. This would not be as significant an outcome except for the fact that the judge’s decision means that any reapplication needs to address the identified shortcomings. If they do not, any subsequent approvals would be unlikely to withstand a future judicial review.
Before you get too excited about the residents’ win, it is important to know that the County is appealing the decision. This seems to be Rocky View’s strategy for dealing with legal disputes. The County doesn’t take defeat easily; however unreasonable the court concluded the County’s decisions were, the County is willing to use taxpayers’ dollars to continue to defend its decisions.
If you haven’t yet signed the petition asking the Province to inspect Rocky View’s operations, the County’s decision to appeal this case should be enough to get your signature on the petition. Visit www.rockyviewsos.com for more information.
All the best,
Rocky View Gravel Watch