County residents angered as gravel pit moves ahead

Residents opposed to a planned gravel pit northwest of Springbrook feel “misrepresented and dismayed” by the planning process.

Residents opposed to a planned gravel pit northwest of Springbrook feel “misrepresented and dismayed” by the planning process.

Adele Ohama, who is among a group of residents who have united against the Red Deer County project, said they feel their concerns have been “dismissed” and a public hearing in July was just “for show.”

Ohama and a number of residents opposed to the project were at Tuesday’s county council meeting when third reading was granted to include the gravel pit site in a gravel extraction district, which allows it be mined. The quarter section of farmland owned by the Pine Hill Hutterite Colony along Range Road 284.

Third reading had been on hold since July to wait for the completion of a Traffic Impact Assessment. The decision followed a sometimes emotional public hearing that saw council chambers packed with concerned residents.

The traffic assessment recommended that the Range Road 284 haul route be upgraded to an eight-metre county standard with more shallow ditches to improve safety. Gravel trucks will be kept off the route when school buses are picking up and dropping off children.

Ohama said the measures do nothing to reduce the dangers posed by adding gravel trucks to traffic on local roads including Burnt Lake Trail.

As well, the county failed to acknowledge the impact of the development on nearby property values and ignored its own mandate to protect agricultural land and environmentally sensitive areas.

Mayor Jim Wood said council heard the concerns about safety.

“Basically, that road is going to be upgraded significantly to make sure that we have a very safe road,” he said, adding the county has been working with Chinook’s Edge School Division on that issue.

Road upgrades are at the developer’s expense. Other issues around dust, noise and hours of operation will also be addressed before any digging takes place.

“Those will be outlined in our development agreement that they will have to abide by,” he said.

While agriculture land will be used for the gravel pit once it is played out it will be returned to usable farmland, he said.

“Council took a really hard look at our decision the other day. I felt confident that the process will address the issues outlined by the public.”

The gravel proposal must still receive development permit approval from the county before it can proceed.

pcowley@www.reddeeradvocate.com

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