On June 13th, at the same time as Rocky View Council approved a delay to the Aggregate Resource Plan, it opened the flood gates for gravel applications to rush through under what they acknowledge are weak existing performance standards. This means residents must be extra vigilant as at least four new gravel applications come forward before the fall election – starting with the Summit Aggregate application on June 27th, followed closely by two additional applications on July 11th. These three are all on Big Hill Springs Road.
Both Rocky View Gravel Watch and Rocky View Forward asked to speak to Council on this issue. However, in a 6 – 2 vote, Council refused. The two votes of support came from Councillors Breakey and Arshinoff. Regrettably, Councillors Lowther, Kendall, Ashdown, Habberfield, Solberg and Reeve Boehlke were not willing to listen. Councillor Habberfield went so far as to say that it wouldn’t make a difference how long they consult on this and pushed for Option 1 – to have the ARP in place by September. This sentiment was echoed by Councillor Lowther.
Council delayed the ARP’s completion date until after the fall election. That, in itself, was better than ramming the policy through without proper consultation. Unfortunately, they also accepted Administration’s assumption that, in the interim, they must allow gravel applications to come forward under existing rules. As part of the decision to delay the ARP, Councillors Lowther and Kendall were adamant that gravel applications could proceed.
Both Rocky View Forward and Rocky View Gravel Watch support delaying approval of the ARP. We did, however, want to express concern with the “business as usual” assumption regarding interim gravel pit applications. Contrary to Administration’s assumption, there are alternatives that Council should have considered.
Many residents contacted us asking why the County cannot have a moratorium on gravel applications until the ARP is finalized. The answer is that they can, but Council has to approve a moratorium. This was one of the options we wanted to present to Council.
Another option was to parallel the approach used for income tax changes – allow transactions to seek approval now under existing rules, but require them to comply with the new rules once they are in place. This approach would let Council address gravel companies’ desires to have their applications heard on a timely basis without stacking the deck against residents by allowing gravel companies to evade the stricter standards that everyone knows will be part of the ARP – standards that are so important to the health and safety of County residents.
This is a clear illustration of everything that is wrong with our existing Council. Individuals, who represent hundreds of residents, ask to speak on an issue that has generated more public response than any other policy considered by the County and their request is summarily denied. The majority on Council has clearly indicated that if they have to pick sides between gravel companies and County residents – the residents lose.