Opinion: Residents must stand together on gravel issues

By Rocky View Gravel Watch
For the County News

Members of Rocky View Gravel Watch attended an Aug. 31 meeting on the STAR pit to discuss the problem of overnight crushing at the STAR pit and the pit’s 24/7 operation. 

The meeting was called by Councillor Lowther to encourage people  to write letters to the Province asking it to restrict the STAR pit’s hours of operation from 24 hours a day to 12 hours a day.

Residents who live close to the STAR pit are being woken up, if they can get to sleep, by the loud aggravating noise of one crusher that is operating 24/7 within the pit. Many residents noted that the noise in the day is tolerable. However, come evening it’s a whole other story.  

Councillor Lowther provided some background information about the pit and played his latest recording of the crushers at 3 a.m. He stated that the best way to move the province into action was to write to them emphasizing your own story of how the noise of the pit impacts you. 

Residents listen to area Coun. Eric Lowther Aug. 31 at a meeting on gravel issues. Photo: Enrique Massot

 

This is where it gets awkward. This July, the majority on council, including Councillor Lowther, voted in favour of placing three new pits in Division 9. This despite overwhelming written opposition to these pits as well as in-person opposition at the public hearings from Rocky View residentsRocky View Gravel Watch finds it difficult to ignore the hypocrisy of a councillor who approves three pits elsewhere in the county and who then, on the same dayasks council to write to the province requesting that it restrict the rules of a pit in his own backyard.  

However distressing the actions of current council may bethis should not detract from the issue of the day which is the deplorable behaviour of another level of government – the Province – in its lax regulation of operations at its STAR pit.  Rocky View Gravel Watch is here to help all Rocky View residents on gravel related issues.  The impact of STAR’s overnight operations is one of these issues.  

We recognize that many of you may not be affected by STAR.  However, at some point it is likely that we will need to fight another application from the Scott pit or from other pits elsewhere in Rocky View. Writing a letter today and helping your neighbour may encourage the residents who are  affected today to help you when it is you who needs support at a later date.  Hopefully, the province will be more receptive to these letters and more willing to make changes than our own Rocky View Council was regarding the pits in Division 9.

We need to stand together. Write a letter today. Send it to the provincial contacts listed below.  Let the province know you don’t support 24/7 gravel operations close toresidential neighbourhoods. At the very least, the province should acknowledge that pits that operate near municipal borders must adopt the operating standards, including hours of operation, of the more restrictive municipality. For Rocky View that would be 12 hours.

As well, we are all aware of the impacts of silica dust on health and of gravel trucks on road safety, but there is another serious health impact with overnight crushing – sleep deprivation. A number of residents at last night’s meeting voiced their concerns about longterm health effects that may result in not getting enough sleep or interrupted sleepThese include cardiovascular problems, diabetes, depression and obesity.

Gravel is a huge industry that spends millions of dollars lobbying various levels of government, even at the county level. We saw the impact of this in the heavy industry bias in the first draft of the Aggregate Resource Plan when the County hired Golder Associates, a consulting firm with connections to the aggregate industry, to draft the document. After severe resident backlash and input the county committed to a rewrite of the ARP draft, which still has not been released.

As Rocky View Gravel Watch member and Division 9 resident Keith Koebisch so rightly stated – if all people in RVC do not stand together as one united front, we don’t stand a chance against big gravel and government.

Please write to the following:

Honorable Brian Mason – Minister of Transportation – transportation.minister@gov.ab.ca
Honorable Shannon Phillips – Minister of Alberta Environment and Parks – aep.minister@gov.ab.ca
Premier Rachel Notley – premier@gov.ab.ca
Merwan Saher – Auditor general info@oag.ab.ca or msaher@oag.ab.ca
Peter Dalla-Vicenza – Minister Mason’s Chief of Staff – peter.dalla-vicenza@gov.ab.ca
Naheed Nenshi – Calgary Mayor – themayor@calgary.ca
Anne McGrath – Manager, Premier’s Southern Alberta Office – anne.mcgrath@gov.ab.ca