Friday June 14, 2024  Deadline for Rocky View County Aggregate Resource Plan Survey

Thank you for your interest and requests for more help participating in the Rocky View County Aggregate Resource Plan Survey.  For those who are unsure about completing the Rocky View County survey on its Aggregate Resource Plan, we hope you will find the following information from Rocky View Gravel Watch, a local citizen’s group, valuable. We also want to reassure you that the survey will only take a few moments of your time and the open ended question at the end allows you to add suggestions for additional recommendations.

In the coming days we will post ideas about talking points to include in a letter directly to a Rocky View County Councillor on the issue of gravel development in sensitive places like next to Big Hill Springs Provincial Park. There is no timeline on such letters.

Following are two detailed and informative messages from Rocky View Gravel Watch for your reference.

From: Rocky View Gravel Watch
Subject: Reminder: June 14th Deadline for Survey on ARP Committee Report
Greetings:
We want to remind everyone that the deadline to respond to the online survey on the Aggregate Resource Plan (ARP) Stakeholder Advisory Committee’s final report is this Friday, June 14th.  If you haven’t already responded, please be sure to do so.  You can find the survey and a link to the Committee’s report here.
The survey questions focus on your level of agreement with the consensus recommendations.  While the consensus recommendations, on their own, would dramatically improve how gravel pits are approved and operate in Rocky View, it is important to remember that the consensus recommendations are those that were supported by all the Committee members – residential, agricultural and industry representatives.  This means that there are additional policies that will be needed to protect residents and the environment from the negative impacts of gravel operations.
For the survey to fully capture residents’ views on gravel policy, it is important to use the “additional comments” section of the survey to flag issues raised by the country residential and western agriculture representatives on the Committee that you see as particularly critical for inclusion in the ARP.
If you haven’t already read the Committee’s Report, we encourage you to do so – it is a relatively quick read.  Rather than repeat the summary of the report from our May 29th email, we have pasted it at the end of this email.
As well as completing the survey by Friday, we want to be sure everyone knows about the County’s open houses on the Municipal Development Plan (MDP – the County Plan) that will be held between June 13th – 27th.
These open houses are an opportunity to share your views on the issues to include in the ARP.  The County intends to incorporate key elements of the ARP into the MDP to ensure effective implementation.  Administration has identified many of the non-consensus issues raised in the Committee’s Report as issues that need further public engagement.
The MDP open houses are also focusing on agricultural land use policies which overlap with gravel policy on some key questions:

  • What is meant by protecting agricultural land?  Does it only apply to “arable” land that is defined as cropland?  Or, does it apply to all land used for agricultural purposes, including hay fields and pasture land?
    If the focus is “arable” land, that leaves much of the ag land in west Rocky View unprotected and more susceptible to gravel development.
    Can large-scale, deep gravel pits that extract down to 1 metre above the water table actually be effectively reclaimed to agricultural uses once the gravel has been removed?  If not, the standard assumption that pits will be reclaimed to ag uses is not valid and once such gravel pits are approved on ag land, the land becomes of questionable value as future ag land.

The specific dates and locations for the MDP open houses are as follows – all the open houses run from 3:00 – 8:00p.m.

  • Thursday, June 13th – The Track Golf Course, 333 Boulder Creek Drive, Langdon
  • Tuesday, June 18th – C3 Church, 91 Commercial Court, Springbank
  • Wednesday, June 19th – Bearspaw Lion’s Club, 25240 Nagway Road, Bearspaw
  • Thursday, June 27th – County Hall, 262075 Rocky View Point, Balzac

Bear in mind that the June 19th MDP open house in Bearspaw will also be an open house for the Bearspaw ASP – same time, same location.  This provides the opportunity to “kill three birds with one stone” – commenting on (1) gravel policy for the ARP and MDP; (2) how you see Bearspaw developing, including gravel’s role in that development; and (3) broader county-wide MDP issues.

For those of you who don’t live in Bearspaw, be sure to attend one of the MDP open houses since these open houses are the opportunity to express your views on both gravel and agricultural policies.
If you have any questions, please be sure to let us know.  Also, please share this with your friends and neighbours.
All the best,
Rocky View Gravel Watch

 

For further reference – following is a Rocky View Gravel Watch May 29th email:
Greetings:
The Aggregate Resource Plan Stakeholder Advisory Committee’s final report has been submitted to the County and residents have an opportunity to respond to it via an on-line survey between now and Friday, June 14th.  Administration will present the report and a summary of public feedback to Council shortly after that. You can find the survey and the report here.  The survey asks for input on your level of agreement with the consensus recommendations; whether you believe your views were reflected in the report; and any other comments you think should be considered.  Since the survey doesn’t ask for identifying information, be sure to indicate which perspectives you identify with as one of your additional comments – (1) country residential and western agricultural; (2) eastern agricultural; or (3) industry – without that detail, residents’ feedback will not be as clear. [Note – the survey has been updated to ask this question.
We want to thank Gerry Bietz, John Weatherill, and Tom Foss who so ably volunteered to represent the interests of residential and agricultural residents on the west side of the County.  Their expertise and dedication have resulted in a Committee report that we believe residents should be able to support wholeheartedly.  We also want to thank the residents who met with Gerry, John, and Tom to provide input while the Committee was working through its recommendations.
The Committee’s discussions clarified that there are significant differences between how gravel issues are perceived in east and west Rocky View.  In the east, agricultural landowners see gravel operations in a much more positive light than is the case in the west. Perhaps this is because in the east pits are smaller in scale and can be a welcome supplement to farmers’ incomes. In the west, pits are much larger in scale and are typically owned by large corporations that have no ties to the land or the community.  While these are stark differences, we believe that they should be easy to address through location criteria and performance standards in drafting the ARP.
As anticipated, the Committee was not able to reach consensus on all issues.  That’s not surprising since the industry representatives were there to lobby for the gravel companies, all of which are profit-oriented private or public companies.  Because of that reality, they can’t be expected to voluntarily agree with some of the policies that will be important to include in the ARP.  However, the proximity of the County’s gravel resources to the Calgary market means that industry will continue to extract gravel here even though they may complain about tighter rules. This doesn’t diminish the fact that residents and the environment need better rules to protect them from the negative impacts of gravel operations.

The consensus recommendations, on their own, would dramatically improve how gravel pits are approved and operate in the County.  These consensus recommendations are:

  • To develop industry-specific performance standards and have all new applications and renewals of existing operations implement a consistent set of performance standards.
  • To have the County actively regulate gravel operations through proactive site monitoring, timely expert review of operating reports, and enforcement action where appropriate.
  • To establish updated industry-specific application standards to provide consistent application criteria for all applications.
  • To develop a publicly available online platform dedicated to aggregate development that would provide information on all active and proposed aggregate sites in the County, including approved and proposed Master Site Development Plans and development permits, and compliance reports for active aggregate sites.
  • To establish a mandatory stakeholder engagement process for all new aggregate applications and renewals.  Currently, there are poorly defined engagement obligations for the initial land use redesignation application, but none for development permit applications or renewals where the details for how a pit will operate are determined.
  • To draft the Aggregate Resource Plan in clear, easily understood, and objective language.

In conjunction with policy direction on the issues where there wasn’t consensus, we hopefully will see a gravel policy that addresses the most pressing concerns that arise from ongoing gravel operations.
Most of the topics where consensus wasn’t reached were brought forward by Gerry, John, and Tom as important issues for the ARP to address. The committee’s report summarizes each group’s perspective on these issues.  These include:

  • location criteria
  • cumulative impacts
  • improved protection for groundwater and the environment
  • ensuring industry’s technical studies are reviewed by relevant technical experts
  • understanding of the net economic impact of gravel operations and of the extent and location of gravel reserves.

If you have any questions, please be sure to let us know.  Also, please share this with your friends and neighbours.
All the best,
Rocky View Gravel Watch

 

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