With zoning for one new gravel pit in Division 9 all but passed and two more receiving public hearings on July 11, opponents remain outraged over the direction being taken by Rocky View County council.
Rocky View Gravel Watch and Rocky View Forward are among those reaching out to Rocky View residents to demand the new Aggregate Resource Plan (ARP) be completed before any further hearings are held. Failing that, they believe the county should at a minimum require any approved pits to conform with the rules and regulations of the yet completed plan.
Public hearings for two more pits along Hwy. 567 will be heard by RVC council and if approved that means four pits could potentially be operating simultaneously in close proximity. On June 27, RVC council gave the first two readings to the rezoning of one parcel which clears the way for Summit tto establish an aggregate operation should it receive a development permit.
"We’re trying to get as many people out as we can and have an active voice because now there’s not just one pit in the area, there’s two pits and potentially four and who knows how many more after that," says Samanntha Wright, of Rocky View Forward.
In particular, they are concerned there's a rush to get the operations approved before the ARP is completed and enacted. Janet Ballantyne, also of Rocky View Forward, believes they want to beat the legislation so they will be uninhibited by the new rules.
"The pits are all concentrated in one little area and the biggest flaw in the existing rules is there are no controls on cumulative impact and it’s been made obvious there are going to be some controls on cumulative impact," says Ballantyne.
"They’re making it very clear that if they get their gravel pit approval before the ARP then they intend to work under the existing rules for the length of their development permit and that’s another reasons why we’re objecting to them rushing these through," she says.
In January 2014, RVC division 9 councillor Bruce Kendall pushed for the creation of an ARP but is now starting to regret it because it has taken so long to complete. He says the idea was to set out clear perimeters and address issues like noise and dust. Instead, the ARP remains incomplete, because of changes in personnel on the project and the time it has taken to ingest over 1,800 submissions from the public. Now it isn't expect to be completed as late as March 2018 and he wonders if that will even happen.
"I'll be honest, at this point in time I'm concerned that it may not come to fruition next March. I certainly hope so, but the long and short is, maybe a better place for it is in the land-use bylaw, right where we have defined rules for aggregate extraction and the ARF guise. I don't know."
Bill Corbett, who acts privately and is also part of Rocky View Gravel Watch, stormed out of the June 27 RVC council meeting in frustration when he wasn't allowed to speak. A 40-year resident of Rocky View County who doesn't normally get involved with politics, Corbett has taken the issue to heart and has made extensive submissions and believe the process has been short-circuited.
"My major frustration was that all these guys had to do was allow people to speak just on the issue of whether it should be tabled and then allow to Summit to respond and then move on. They may not have been happy with the results, but that's fine. It's the arrogance of precluding public input when you have the opportunity to allow it. That's what I think many people found so frustrating."
He has made a written submission for next week's public hearings, reiterating his call for the ARP to be completed first, but he's not sure if he'll be in attendance, believing it just be a waste of his time.
He does, however, look forward to seeing the revised draft of the ARP and offering further input.
What is important to note, points out RVC Reeve Greg Boehlke, is the wide support received for the Summit proposal. A petition signed by 55 people and one letter were submitted in favour of the rezoning during the June 2015 public hearing while they received only two letters of objection. Many more objections were submitted for the recent June 27 meeting, but of those only two were from the immediate area.