Gravel pits have multi-generational impact
Tuesday, Mar 28, 2017 06:00 am
Mountain View County and a private company called Rolling Mix Concrete Ltd. recently held a public open house to present their proposal to re-designate approximately 400 acres from agriculture to aggregate extraction, more commonly known as a gravel pit. The purpose of the open house was to hear concerns from the public so that they can be addressed prior to any application being made. I can see three main areas of concern being the size, the economics, as well as the health, safety and environmental issues of the proposal. I will address the size issues in this letter.
There are currently six gravel pits operating within six miles of Sundre, covering more than 800 acres of property or about five per cent of the area covered by McDougal Flats. The sixth pit just opened recently under Alberta Transportation, much to the surprise of the neighbours.
The current proposal would double the total area currently designated for gravel pits in the area and was sold as having an end use of a “Day Use Regional Park.”
The first question that was asked was, “What is the timeline for this project?”
The answer was unknown as the complete details of the project are not yet determined and nobody can predict what the future economic needs for the resources will be. The county did say that its existing 80-acre pit that opened around 1985 is ready to be reclaimed. This would put the timeline for the current 400-acre proposal to be about 150 years. When you take the time the existing pits have been in production and how much time is left in their reserves, you find a similar estimate.
The end use designation of “Day Use Regional Park” is alternate phrasing for “Flood Plain.” This means that the elevations of the property after the resources have been removed will be below the one-in-100-year flood level. County officials said that they will not enter into the water table, which is lower than the 1:100 level, although their partner did not make any comment as to the depths they might go.
The initial proposal is to have only 30 acres open at any one time, but to re-designate the complete 400-acre parcel now. The concept of making a decision on the 150-year future of properties takes away the choices of up to seven generations.
During the public open house, officials asked the attendees to draw on maps to show where they would like to see future pathways in the Day Use Regional Park — was that a squirrel? The size of this proposal amplifies all of the concerns that would normally be placed on this type of project. Doubling the existing footprint of gravel pits within the area will more than double the concerns of health, safety and environment.
So, if you thought we had problems with dust, noise and traffic before, multiply that and think of adding a flood diversion reservoir on the upstream border of Sundre.