Division 9 - Cochrane
Potential Gravel Pits on Hw 567 - Gravel Pit Alley
Cochrane Ag Society
Big Hill Springs Road (Highway 567) has become a hotbed for gravel applications. There has been one gravel pit operating there for years and three more have been all but approved – Summit, Lafarge and McNair/Buckley. There are rumours that there may be upwards of nine pits in this area should all the potential applications proceed.
The Summit application had been heard a year ago. At that point, Council tabled it pending completion of the Aggregate Resource Plan (see the What’s New main page for information on the ARP). With the ARP not yet completed, Summit insisted that its application should be heard. Despite vociferous opposition from residents, Council voted to approve Summit’s application by a 6 – 3 vote.
The Lafarge and McNair/Buckley pit applications had been waiting in the wings to see what Summit’s fate would be. Council gave second reading approval to the Lafarge and McNair/Buckley pit applications at its July 11th meeting. The only concession to all the opposition from local residents was that Council is asking Summit, Lafarge and McNair/Buckley to work together to come up with performance standards, mitigation strategies, and a transportation plan. As Councillor Bahcheli noted, this is like asking the fox to manage your hen house.
If you'd like to stay abreast of gravel issues facing the County contact Rocky View Gravel Watch by clicking here.
Located just North of Cochrane off Highway 22X lies the community of Cochrane Lakes. The original plan for Monterra at Cochrane Lake required a pipe and pump system to be installed between the lake and the Bow River to act as an outflow mechanism should the lake's levels rise above what is acceptable. However, in 2005, Rocky View Council approved the subdivision without such a system as it was claimed by an engineering consultant that evaporation would keep the lake at acceptable levels.
By 2012, the County had to invest in pumping the lake as its levels had risen out of control and residents were starting to flood as the lake had no natural outflow outlets. It happened again in 2013. With no end in sight, the area Councillor, Bruce Kendall, proposed a levy to pay for the needed outflow pipe to the Bow River. However, there was a problem - the pipe had to go under CN tracks which Council had been informed would not be permitted.
Division 2's Councillor Arshinoff was able to negotiate with CN to use an existing culvert and have the water pumped into the Bow River. Arshinoff was also able to get the Province to commit to a $2.3 million grant to help pay for the obviously needed outflow pipe, despite opposition from Administration and some Councillors who claimed it was an inappropriate use of grant monies. Because of the need to go under the tracks if they used the Bow River, this grant was to pump into Horse Creek. While there is still concern as to the detriment this water will have on the environmentally sensitive Horse Creek the solution has saved the residents of Cochrane Lake from decades of a special levy.
Last January, Council started the process to sell the land that it currently leases to the Cochrane & District Agricultural Society. Apparently this has been put on hold indefinitely.
After a dramatic public outcry this past winter, Council provided some assurances that it intended to “support the future” of the Ag Society. Unfortunately, since then Council appears to be backing away from anything beyond its minimal legal obligations under the Ag Society’s lease.
The Ag Society and its supporters have asked that it be “kept whole” if the County sells the land that it currently leases. It would require approximately $6.7 million for the Ag Society to replace its facilities at a new location - significantly less than the profit the County is expected to make by selling the land. The Ag Society has been looking for a suitable new home and may have found one in conjunction with the Town of Cochrane. However, without the funds to rebuild the facilities that it will lose once the County sells its land, the Ag Society’s future remains at risk.
This issues has been covered at length - for The Cochrane Eagle article click here. For the County News Online article, click here. If you'd like to contact the Society directly, click here.