One More Load: Dealing with detrimental delays
By John Ashton
ASGA and AEP to discuss permitting challenges
By John Ashton
This winter, the Alberta Sand & Gravel Association (ASGA) will be unveiling a major undertaking: a comprehensive report on permitting delays with the Government of Alberta’s Environment and Parks (AEP) department. The 25-page-plus report has been a year-long project for the province’s aggregate industry group.
“Permitting delays have been a significant issue for the aggregate industry for years,” said ASGA president Dale Soetaert. “This has been the predominant challenge for our members in regards to business certainty, in order to provide the Alberta market with a stable, long term supply of aggregates.”
Alberta aggregate producers faced delays in permitting that can last for years. While ASGA and AEP have communicated on this problem that had been ongoing, there has never been a comprehensive review on the problem, either from government or industry. There also hasn’t been a full list of recommendations for solutions from industry to government.
Early in 2019, ASGA’s Land and Environment Committee gathered to decide on what work they would undertake for the year. The committee had been newly reconstituted under a new chair, Lesley Foy from Aspen Land Group.
The Land and Environment Committee is comprised of nearly a dozen volunteer members. They are environmental professionals that worked for both producer and consultant members of the ASGA.
Very quickly, permitting delays was the topic everyone was talking about at that first meeting of the year.
The complaints were much the same, but new ways to contribute to a solution proved evasive. There were many recommendations they could pass on to AEP, but no documentation was available to support them.
“We talked about what this committee could contribute as a resource,” said Foy. “We decided to prepare a report that fully documented the processes of two regulatory frameworks, the challenges experienced by industry and provide a list of solutions.”
The project was not a small undertaking. Nearly a dozen volunteer members of the committee worked on writing, mapping application processes, and editing. Working meetings became routine at the ASGA office.
“A lot of people have contributed both an immense amount of time and resources to making this report a reality,” said Foy. “ASGA is very grateful for that commitment to bettering the industry.”
What’s been produced is a report that details what producers must go through to get a new pit permitted and provides insights on what causes those delays. Then it lists ways that the problem can be alleviated.
The report does not call for deregulation in Alberta. However, it does have a goal of reducing the amount of time that meeting those regulatory needs takes.
While this report is technical in nature, ASGA hopes to have a wide audience.
An executive summary outlines the contents for those who don’t have a background in environmental studies.
After distributing to members and the AEP Minister and staff, it will be distributed to MLA’s involved in environmental and the media both in and out of the aggregate world. Stakeholder groups like municipal organizations will receive it as well.
As of this writing, the release of the report is expected before the end of 2019.
John Ashton is the executive director of the Alberta Sand & Gravel Association.