I have made applications for a gravel pit on my land over the last few years. Each time, the Red Deer County administration reviewed our application and recommended approval with conditions. Each time, councillors on the Municipal Planning Commission and then the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board refused to listen to the recommendations of county administration and turned my application down.
With this last application, the commission and the board both turned the application down because of environmental issues. These issues will be dealt with by Alberta Environment and the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans under provincial and federal laws and by experts who are qualified to rule on these issues. I don’t understand why the commission and the board are dealing with environmental issues when they are not qualified to do so.
I asked the board to come out and see my land and the surrounding for themselves. They would not do so. Had they done so, they would have understood the true situation. Instead, they refused my application based on speculation and emotion. The board was influenced by a group who call themselves environmentalists and yet many of these “environmentalists” engage in activities that are far more harmful to the environment than the proposed gravel pit, such as cattle farming directly adjacent to (and sometimes in) the Medicine River. They express concerns about preservation of agricultural land and yet many of them live on acreages. Once the gravel was mined from the gravel pit, my land would have been put back into its agricultural state; the acreages will never be used for agricultural production.
The individuals who opposed the application told the board that river floods every year and covers my property. In the over 10 years that I have owned the property, I have only seen it flood once. When it did flood, the Medicine River was not in the proposed gravel pit area and the water simply dissipated when the river went down. Since then, I have built a road to my cabin that will act as a berm so there is no way for the Medicine River to flood the proposed gravel pit area.
The opposition complained about noise and dust and yet the closest residence is 580 metres away, through several layers of brush and heavy spruce on the other side of the Medicine River. The next closest other residences are 800 to 900 metres away. I have seen crushers in cities and towns operating much closer to hundreds of people.
Two of the individuals who opposed the application run river boats on the Medicine River. Anyone who has heard the river boats knows how much noise they make and yet these individuals complained about noise from the gravel pit.
The gravel pit that I was trying to get approved was only 11 hectares. It would serve the needs of the local area. Once the gravel was mined, I would have to reclaim the land. I planned to plant trees and create two small lakes. I was going to leave a buffer zone for wildlife and shade for the spawning walleye. It would be a win-win situation.
I am not the greedy developer. I am just a retired farmer who would like to supplement his income in the summer months. I cannot believe that a small group could have so much power as to be able to stop me from using my land in a way that was not going to bother any of them and was not going to harm the environment.
Red Deer County