Time for gravel companies to clean up environmental mess

Gravel companies must repair environmental damage without delay, say Central Alberta muncipalities

Central Alberta rural municipalities have joined forces to push the province to ensure gravel companies repair their environmental damage in a timely way.

Municipalities want the province to amend its gravel code of practice to require a “timely progressive reclamation” of larger gravel pits and to enforce deadlines. The province is responsible for inspection and enforcement of reclamation plans around gravel pits 12.3 acres (five hectares) or larger.

To encourage gravel companies to reclaim their pits Alberta Environment and Parks should ensure securities collected ahead of time “reflect liability and provide sufficient incentive for progressive reclamation,” says a resolution sponsored by Mountain View County and endorsed this week by Red Deer County.

As it stands, gravel companies do not have to reclaim tapped-out sections of their pits as they go, according to the province’s Code of Practice for Pits.

While municipalities can regulate land use and development of gravel pits their authority stops there.

A resolution going to the Central Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties urges the province to put more teeth in its Code of Practice. If supported, the resolution will go to the provincial association representing rural municipalities.

Mountain View County Reeve Bruce Beattie said they have a number of large active pits and they want to see them restored to useful land as the pits are mined.

“It’s been an ongoing issue in order to get both reclamation happening and also to have a consistent set of operating principles right across the county, whether (the pits) are small or large.”

There are gravel pits where no efforts have been made yet to restore the mined-out areas, he said.

Red Deer County Mayor Jim Wood said municipalities have seen what happens when gravel pits are not reclaimed.

“A long time ago there were no rules and we have gravel pits that were left unreclaimed. We know what kind of a mess that leaves.

“We’re just continuing to make sure we see orderly gravel development happen in a sustainable fashion.”

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com