Red Deer farmers fight gravel pit

SPRUCE VIEW, Alta. — Rural neighbours of a proposed project in Red Deer County to convert 122 acres of cropland into a gravel pit continue to voice opposition.

On April 25, the county council will entertain second and third reading of a land-use bylaw that would allow gravel mining as a permitted use on the site, located east of Spruce View at the confluence of the Red Deer, Medicine and Little Red Deer rivers.

Neighbouring property owners are not impressed.

“That well would be the first to go,” said rancher Dale Christian, pointing to a solar-powered well used to provide fresh water for her family’s beef cows when they are brought in for calving.

On the west side of the proposed gravel pit, Adele McKechnie ran a glass of fresh water from her kitchen faucet while talking about the fear she and her husband, John, share with the Christians, who have battled a series of gravel mining applications over the past 27 years.

This time around, instead of dealing with yet another development permit, the neighbours are fighting a bylaw that would change the parcel’s zoning designation.

If that happens, neighbours would lose all avenue of appeal because gravel mining would be considered a permitted use and no longer subject to council approval, said Adele McKechnie.

The Christians and McKechnies predict the loss of good cropland and their wells, which are dug into the river delta’s alluvial plain at depths of five to six metres, if gravel mining is permitted.

Aside from noise, dust and traffic, they worry about changes in flood patterns and bank erosion from the Red Deer River.

They point to a plan that would include berms around the site and a 165 metre buffer zone, measured from their wells.

John McKechnie said the setback is insufficient and the berms would not prevent flood damage. Instead, it would divert it and make it worse by channeling flood waters into a narrower path.

Previous floods have already proven the river’s might, carrying firewood from McKechnies’ yard across the field to collect along the Christians’ west fence line, washing across Highway 54 and taking out sections of a county road south of the highway.

The Christians and McKechnies plan to speak against the bylaw during a public hearing set for April 25.

The delta straddles Highway 54 between Spruce View and Innisfail, roughly 40 kilometres southwest of Red Deer.

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  • Margaret Roth

    That’s very one sided article. Might have been better journalism to have commentary from the county on the bylaw or those seeking to use their land for this purpose. Certainly with the multiple of environmental and development studies & permits and experts around, this development is as hap hazard as the article would imply. But then of course, the NIMBY folks are always more educated and vocal than the subject matter experts.

    • Harold

      Would you allow as you say ….”the multiple of environmental and development studies & permits and experts around”, to come onto your property and change your way of life? To agree to this is proof that they are in fact uneducated. What you have spelled out is an Autocratic Government and not a Democracy. Not-in-my-back-yard is the Rights of any property owner. Those looking over the fence have no such Rights unless the actions are causing harm to other properties. [The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms] Everyone in Canada has the freedom of conscience guaranteed and they have a right to life, liberty, and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof, is also guaranteed. Every person is equal before the law and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of law without discrimination and 31) nothing in this charter extends the legislative powers of any body or Authority. The “multiple of environmental and development studies & permits and experts around” and the governing, are not above the LAW. The property owners should take this document (charter) to the uneducated council and educate them and demand that they follow the laws that have already been written. Too often there are the hypnotized who give away what they hold the most dear in order to take the same away from others. Against a government acting as Autocratic, there is only one side, and that is Democracy; the principal that our country was built upon. Our Canadian Constitution Act starts with the words: Whereas Canada is founded upon the principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law: there is no appendage that adds the “multiple of environmental and development studies & permits and experts around” or the opinions of City or Town Councils.
      NIMBY is a legitimate and a legal response and should not be characterized in any other form in a Democracy. Would you give away your right to NIMBY to rather have none?