A controversial Red Deer County gravel pit application is going forward.
County council approved second reading on Tuesday for an application by Border Paving to have the new gravel pit, located about 10 kilometres northwest of Delburne, added to the county’s gravel overlay district so it can be mined.
Border hopes to mine about 225,000 tonnes of gravel over five years from the 7.6-acre pit located near the Red Deer River.
More than 40 residents wrote letters or sent emails to the county opposing the application, including Chad and Jody Young, whose home will be only 165 metres from the pit.
Jody Young told council that the gravel operation raises noise, dust and environmental concerns. As well, the addition of more gravel trucks on the local haul route poses safety issues, she said.
The couple are also concerned that the gravel operation could have an impact on their water supply and will have an impact on the wildlife that reside in the area that has been designated as environmentally significant by the county.
“We have a right to the use and enjoyment of our land,” Young said a public hearing held remotely through Zoom.
With several other gravel pits already operating near the proposed pit, the cumulative impacts on the surrounding area will be significant.
Some of the other mined-out areas should be reclaimed before more gravel pits are opened, the Youngs say in a written presentation provided to council.
Border Paving owner Kate Walls said the family-run company has been operating for 65 years and has always followed the rules and worked with the community.
“We pride ourselves on doing the right thing,” she said.
Border Paving plans to create a 10-metre-high berm between the pit and the Youngs’ home to cut down on the noise and there will be no mining below the water table.
“We are confident we will be able to tailor our operations in a way to minimize the impact on the Youngs.”
Coun. Christine Moore expressed concerns about allowing a gravel operation so near a home.
“It seems very close to me — 165 metres to a home,” said Moore. “That shocked me.”
Coun. Dana Depalme also questioned why a gravel pit is allowed so close to nearby residents.
“A dog kennel has to be further away than a gravel pit. That’s ludicrous.”
Coun. Philip Massier said he would support second reading because both a noise impact assessment and a full environmental review will be required before council considers third reading and final approval.
“I think it’s very important that we get the professionals to give us all an environmental review of this particular pit,” said Massier.
He expressed confidence that the county’s regulations will protect local roads and neighbourhoods.
Mayor Jim Wood said gravel pit applications are often contentious because neighbours are invariably affected.
“Gravel is one of the most controversial things we have happen in Red Deer County at any particular time,” he said.
However, the county’s regulations are stringent and the environmental review will answer many questions about the pit, which is a relatively small operation that will only operate for five years, unlike decades for many pits.
“I want to hear back from Alberta Environment and I believe we’re doing the responsible thing today by passing second reading.”