Asking for corruption and abuse to stop

Dear Editor,
I asked if Hon. Nate Horner, MLA is aware of issues regarding the governance of the County of Stettler and asked that I create a paper trail, to which now I have.

The first concern I have is that the municipality has cost the Alberta taxpayers this year on one job (#590 resurface) approx. three million extra dollars due to material having to be trucked from a source much further away than needed. This does not include the extra cost associated with more Alberta infrastructure being used that will need repairs as well.

I state this because RC Pit located in the County of Stettler is a major source for large projects such as this and has been open since the 50’s. In the last four years the county has done nothing but create red tape regarding this industry.

I have acted as an agent to get an approval for a new permit for the RC pit for two years now.

We have been to the Land and Property Rights Tribunal (LPRT) a total of two times now and a third coming soon.

The first appeal was due mostly to the municipality ignoring expert studies and implementing their own conditions not based on facts.

The second appeal was mostly regarding the county would not accept independent engineer expert opinions that the LPRT required as per the first ruling.

There also are concerns from the county over CAP levy to which they feel the applicant is not following, when in fact the County of Stettler are not following their own CAP levy.

All rulings have not been in favour of the county which should demonstrate what is really going on in this county. In fact the county is now trying to get an application approved to file an appeal against the LPRT ruling regarding the RC Pit.

Regarding this CAP levy I have brought this up and was threatened by a staff member to pay or he would issue me a stop work order regarding a different pit in which I operate.

Regarding this matter, I am now being sued by this staff member for a sum of approximately $150,000 and from what looks like on the County of Stettler financials the local ratepayers may be paying for this staff member’s personal lawsuit.

This law firm is JSS Barristers, a ratepayer requested the billings from the law firm and a lot was redacted and he has now submitted to the next level with the Alberta government for a review. This is concerning if tax dollars are being used for personal gain of a staff member.

The major problem with the county is they feel the rules are for them to enforce but for them, they don’t need to follow.

Codes of Practice for Pits is under the control of the Government of Alberta, as I feel it should be. A municipality should not be able to punish Alberta taxpayers when it is in the best interest of Albertans that these resources are readily available.

Currently, the MGA Act is being abused by this county. They have in the past placed road bans on roads as a means to “get their way”. Road bans of 75 per cent in place on roads when it’s January, a good high grade road and frozen while refusing to give road use agreements to use local infrastructure to extract resources from said gravel pits.

The wording should not give them complete control or they can target people they choose. There needs to be a way that they need to prove via an independent APEGA engineer assessment or something that it is needed to create restrictions to a road.

Bylaws are worded what can be reasonably expected of a development, or in the opinion of the county. There are standards in place regarding noise, air quality, etc. and municipalities can shut down this industry, just because.

Imagine if municipalities had control over the oil and gas sector, the mining sector…nothing would get done in this province and at a huge cost to the Alberta taxpayer.

The other problem is these pits fall under discretionary use under this municipalities bylaw with short terms such as five years. Then all the rules can be changed in effort to target those they wish to enforce the rules upon. Seems absurd and yet I have proof of all of this.

The Marshall’s have several pits in the county and it has been very difficult to operate recently.

On another pit I have a condition requiring me to have a road use agreement and yet they will not issue one. It’s now been over a month with several attempts to try and see why it is not being issued. It is cited because all conditions have not been met.

My driver has received two tickets for no road use agreement and yet I’ve been trying to obtain one. They will not follow their own policy regarding the road use agreements and have the audacity to write tickets of enforcement.

The two tickets the driver received have only a date and time penalty to be paid not even the option to plead not guilty. Which is not following the Canadian charter.

The County of Stettler gave a permit to another developer, same day with not all conditions being met as well as lifting of road bans for the developer.

I wasn’t even recognized by the County of Stettler at the MPC meeting. I was there to give further information and answer and ask questions in an effort to avoid going to the LPRT.

This development permit for this pit is now having to go to the LPRT before unbiased representatives with an extra cost to Alberta taxpayers because this municipality cannot provide proper governance.

I was of the understanding that local governments were to be looking out for the better good of the community and treat tax money as if it was theirs. This is not what is happening in this county.

Please help as this corruption and abuse must come to a stop.

Best regards
James Marshall
Stettler, Alta.

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