Planning Commission approves gravel pit permit with applicant’s requests

Written by Stu Salkeld

The County of Stettler’s Municipal Planning Commission (MPC) granted a development permit for a remote gravel pit and also granted several additional requests from the applicant. The development permit was granted at the Nov. 23 regular MPC meeting.

The MPC is comprised of members of county council and is chaired by Coun. James Nibourg.

Board members read a development permit application from property owner McNabb Construction regarding an existing gravel pit that was described as “remote.” The application was presented by Director of Planning Craig Teal; readers may recognize Teal’s name as he previously worked for Parkland Community Planning Services but is now employed by the County of Stettler.

Teal noted in his report the property in question is owned by 1025172 Alberta Ltd. and is located at S1/2-5-41-16-W4M about 20 kms southeast of the Village of Donalda and involves the entire section which was listed as 640.47 acres.

It was noted in the application McNabb Construction wishes to conduct sand, gravel and surface mineral extraction and processing at the site in question.

“The subject property has been used for aggregate extraction purposes once since its first Alberta Environment and Parks approval in 2013, with the undisturbed areas being used for pasture, stated Teal in his report to the board.

He noted the applicants stated there is about 50,000 tonnes of aggregate on-site, which is somewhat lower than initial estimates. Teal also noted the site in question has no residential neighbours and is surrounded by either farmland or crown land.

“It’s quite remote,” said Teal.

However, its remoteness does cause some road use issues Teal stated, with his report noting some roads in the area “…are built to a very low standard,” while some of the road allowances nearby are considered undeveloped.

Teal explained the relatively low amount of gravel in the pit coupled with the road situation resulted in development permit conditions that depend on which roads are being used and the number of gravel trucks using them.

The original permit proposed undeveloped areas must follow certain restrictions if anything heavier than a half ton pick-up truck travels on them.

Teal stated staff recommended a 10-year term for the development permit. It was noted the pit in question was excavated once in 2013 and has been hauled once since then.

Board chair Nibourg asked if a crusher would be used and representatives of McNabb Construction present at the meeting confirmed a crusher would be there but added there would only be about half a dozen loads per day.

Board member Justin Stevens voiced concern over gravel trucks dropping mud onto other county roads after coming off the undeveloped portion. The McNabb representatives stated that if it was wet out then no gravel hauling would be done.

Teal pointed out the application also included a suggestion that a gravel apron could address the mud issue.

Reeve Larry Clarke voiced concern at the 10-year term, adding that the county has been “burned” by that time period in the past and that checks and balances may be needed to ensure the development permit is followed.

Teal noted compliance to the development permit may be subject to enforcement and a stop order if conditions demand.

Clarke asked how much time is required for enforcement with Teal answering, depending on circumstances, up to several months.

Board member Les Stulberg asked how long the pit would operate and McNabb representatives answered the pit would likely move 20,000 tonnes every three years.

Chair Nibourg told the McNabb representatives Stettler County has had “bad experiences” in the past, including when a gravel pit development permit expired yet the holder continued to work.

McNabb Construction requested that a few tweaks be made to permit conditions which would accommodate selling small amounts of gravel.

The board members unanimously approved the development permit and agreed to add McNabb’s changes, including a threshold of five vehicles per day to trigger an engineer’s inspection and public notification of a gravel haul.

Stu Salkeld
Local Journalism Initiative reporter
ECA Review

About the author

Stu Salkeld

Stu Salkeld, who has upwards of 28 years of experience in the Alberta community newspaper industry, is now covering councils and other news in the Stettler region and has experience working in the area as well.

He has joined the ECA Review as a Local Journalism Initiative Journalist.

Stu earned his two-year diploma in print journalism from SAIT in Calgary from 1993 to ’95 and was raised in Oyen, Alta., one of the communities within the ECA Review’s coverage area.