“Gravel is such a critical issue. Gravel is unambiguously an essential product, but it also has really serious health and safety implications,” said Janet Ballantyne, a member of the advocacy group Rocky View Gravel Watch.
Rocky View Council gave a third reading to rezone lands along the road based on aggregate applications at a meeting on Tuesday, July 25.
Rocky View Gravel Watch had been actively trying to appeal to council to create an aggregate resource policy (ARP) for the safety of residents, before the approval of new gravel pits.
Ballantyne said she is concerned that Rocky View council has placed to much power in aggregate companies in allowing them to attempt to set health and safety standards for the community, before creating an ARP.
“Gravel pits should be located to minimize the impact on residents, that’s one of the big points we have to make,” said Ballantyne.
The approval brings the total to four aggregate pits owned by Summit Aggregates, Lafarge Canada, McNair Sand and Gravel and the already operational Hillstone Aggregates spread along Big Hill Springs Road.
“The health risks and the traffic issues risks are so high. It makes sense to locate gravel pits where they won’t have negative impacts on the people who live in the county,” said Ballantyne.
These approvals have moved forward despite the lack of an active ARP in place for the county.
“For the county to push forward knowing that in a relatively short order they will have an ARP in place, makes no sense in caring about and being responsible for residents,” said Ballantyne.
The ARP will potentially not to be released and adopted until March 2018.
“I’m incredibly disappointed in the country, because the county should be concerned in protecting the health and safety of it’s residents, not in facilitating the gravel companies,” said Ballantyne.
The master site development plan has yet to be released for the recently approved aggregate sites, and Ballantyne said that this provides county council and Rocky View residents a chance to speak up with safety apprehensions.
“One of the real concerns is how they’re rushing didn’t have the ability to look at the technical studies, without being able to see the technical studies there’s was no way to confirm if the staffs assessment is correct,” said Ballantyne.
A freedom of information act request was the only option for the watchdog group to receive this information, but the technical study was not made available in time for the group.
“Residents lack that sense of confidence that the conclusions that are being drawn are valid,” said Ballantyne.