Allowing a gravel pit on farmland that was supposed to be protected will cause harm across Red Deer County, says a resident of the Shady Nook area, which lies across the river from the Red Deer Airport.
On Tuesday, county council will consider third reading of a bylaw amendment that would allow gravel extraction from a quarter section of farmland alongside Range Road 284, about five kilometres south of the Burnt Lake Trail.
The two quarter sections in question — which lie on the east side of the road — were never included in the county lands destined for gravel extraction and should be preserved for their agricultural value, area resident Vince Ohama said on Thursday.
He fears that council will pass the bylaw without having a clear idea of the level of industrial activity that will follow and that the result will pose a health threat, safety hazard and financial loss for him and other residents of the area.
There is also concern that allowing this amendment would open the door to similar applications elsewhere in the county.
A study of nine properties commissioned by local residents indicated a total loss in property values of more than $1 million, said Ohama.
His property alone would drop in value by up to $150,000 and others could lose as much as $300,000, he said.
Additionally, the level of truck traffic hauling from the site will significantly raise safety issues, especially at the S-curve where the Burnt Lake Trail joins Rge. Rd. 284, said Ohama.
The curve is already treacherous and the ditches are very steep, said Ohama. He said he has been called a number of times to pull out someone whose vehicle has left the road and landed upside down in the ditch and can only imagine how much worse it will be if gravel trucks are added to the mix.
Ohama said he, his wife, Adele, and their family and neighbours are also concerned that, while there may be dust control provided near their homes, animals on pasture will suffer from breathing dust raised by truck traffic and their personal safety will be at risk when they are using the road to move cattle from field to field.
A public hearing has been scheduled for the bylaw, which was given first reading in May. Second reading is to take place after the public hearing, with a third and final reading to follow at council’s discretion.
The amendment must pass third reading to become part of the bylaw, which regulates the Gravel Extraction Overlay District.