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Alberta county approves gravel bylaw after public hearing


January 5, 2021
By Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review

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Stettler County, Alta. – The County of Stettler approved changes to its Land Use Bylaw (LUB) pertaining to gravel operations after a public hearing that featured several members of the public speaking against the proposed changes.

The public hearing was held and bylaw decisions were made at the Dec. 9 regular meeting of council.

The public hearing, held via YouTube to meet pandemic guidelines, was held to gather information so councillors could then “consider second and third reading of Bylaw No. 1644-20 to amend Land Use Bylaw 1443-10 in order to clarify sections of the bylaw pertaining to sand, gravel and surface mineral operations.”

Reeve Larry Clarke called the public hearing to order, after which staff noted there were no written submissions either in favour or opposed to the proposed LUB changes.

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Staff also noted there was no one registered to speak in person to support the proposed changes.

However, several people phoned into the meeting to speak in-person against the proposed changes.

The first was Stephanie Larose Hadley who stated she was speaking on behalf of a trucking company that would be impacted by these changes.

Larose Hadley stated she felt there was a lack of public consultation about these changes and that the changes both seemed excessive and would increase costs for trucking companies.

She cited one example in the proposed changes, the hiring of an air quality expert, as to making it very difficult to meet the requirements.

Larose Hadley stated it’s already tough to operate a trucking company and these changes will make a lot more paperwork.

She also stated she was curious why these changes were being made at all.

More people called in to oppose the changes, including Earl Marshall. He stated he’s run a trucking outfit for over 30 years and saw no need for the proposed changes which he felt was “an attack on the aggregate industry.”

Marshall stated he’s opposed bylaw changes at the county before and was concerned about new requirements for “qualifications.”

Marshall also stated he was opposed to making the company owner responsible for what individual truck drivers do, and pointed out County of Stettler gravel trucks have also made mistakes in the past.

Marshall stated he’s run seven gravel pits and had operations close to residences, and only ever had one complaint and even before that complaint came in, Marshall stated a county councillor went over to the home and encouraged the person to complain.

Marshall added that the county already has a noise bylaw so why these changes were needed is unknown, and stated the county could end up in court over these changes.

After presentations, county development officer Jacinta Donovan stated that the proposed bylaw changes were publicly advertised in local newspapers and on the county website.

Reeve Clarke closed the public hearing.

Councillors discussed the qualifications requirement, especially for air quality issues, and also specific routes within a pit to address neighbour concerns.

Coun. Ernie Gendre stated he didn’t want to see any more open pits left unreclaimed.

Councillors didn’t make any changes to the proposed LUB amendments and unanimously approved second and third reading of Bylaw No. 1644-20 to amend Land Use Bylaw 1443-10 in order to clarify sections of the bylaw pertaining to sand, gravel and surface mineral operations.

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Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review