Rocky View County's Gravel Policy
2013 – County Plan
The County Plan recognized the need for a county-wide gravel policy “that addresses site design, location criteria, visual impact, mitigation of extraction impacts, and appropriate setbacks between extraction activities and other land uses.” (County Plan, pg. 68).
Until that policy was developed, the County Plan mandated the detailed technical studies to be included in the Master Site Development Plans (MSDPs) to accompany all applications for new gravel pits.
2016 – Develop an Aggregate Resource Plan (ARP)
In the spring of 2016, the County began work on its gravel policy – the Aggregate Resource Plan (ARP). The first draft was released in December 2016. In response, residents submitted almost 2,000 recommendations for change – the most the County ever received on any policy initiative. A revised draft was released in February 2018. Residents were still unhappy. Further public engagement was held through the spring of 2018. More detail on the ARP process can be found here.
2018 – Council Kills the ARP
In September 2018, Rocky View’s current Council voted to stop all work on the Aggregate Resource Plan. Only months earlier, both Councillors Wright and Gautreau had provided residents with public commitments that they would support the creation of a resident-industry steering committee to resolve the outstanding issues with the revised draft of the ARP.
When Councillor Wright proposed the creation of this steering committee at Council’s September 25th council meeting, only Councillors Hanson and Kissel supported her motion. Councillor Gautreau, in blatant disregard of his earlier promises, made the motion to rescind the ARP terms of reference and to direct Administration to develop application requirements and performance standards to govern future gravel applications. His motion was supported by the majority on council, with only Hanson, Kissel and Wright in opposition. More detail on council’s decision can be found here.
2019 – Death Blow to a Gravel Policy for Rocky View
In April 2019, the Council majority delivered the final death blow to residents’ hopes for a county-wide gravel policy. As directed in September 2018, Administration had been working on a new smaller-scale gravel policy and came back to Council seeking direction. Led again by Councillor Gautreau, the majority directed Administration to cease all further work to develop a gravel policy for the County and to assess future gravel applications through existing development permit requirements. Only Councillors Hanson, Kissel and Wright opposed this direction.
As a result, new application requirements and performance standards have never been developed and the County Plan provided the only guidance for future gravel applications in Rocky View.
2019 – 2020 – Replace the County Plan with a new Municipal Development Plan
Then in 2019, Council also decided to replace the County Plan with a new Municipal Development Plan (MDP). The draft MDP was given first reading on October 6, 2020. The public hearing for the MDP has not been scheduled. The draft MDP can be accessed here.
For residents concerned about negative impacts from gravel operations in the County, the draft MDP is not good news.
The draft MDP does not include any detail on what must be included in Master Site Development Plans for future gravel pit applications. This may have been acceptable had Administration been allowed to develop application requirements and performance standards for gravel pits. However, since they were stopped from doing this, removing the guidance that had been in the County Plan is incomprehensible.
As a minimum, all the draft MDP needed to do was copy the mandated requirements for Master Site Development Plans from the County Plan – but it does not do even that. This means that there will be no mandated requirements that gravel companies must meet in the future.
Since the council majority believes the entire County Plan should be thrown out, it is, unfortunately, not surprising that they are not interested in honouring the County Plan’s commitments to Rocky View residents. Even more disturbing is the reality that the majority on this Council believes that they can regulate complex gravel operations on a case-by-case basis when they have studiously avoided even discussing the issue.
In terms of specific policies, the draft MDP also introduces assumptions and policies that are far less favourable for residents than those in the County Plan. A detailed analysis of the draft MDP’s gravel-related policies can be found here.