Members of Save the Rosebud, a concerned citizens group opposed to the development of a proposed racetrack facility near the hamlet of Rosebud, gave a presentation and requested a letter of support from Wheatland County council during the regular Tuesday, June 15 council meeting.
Save the Rosebud asked for a letter of support to send to Alberta Environment and Parks, along with some 700 letters from “grass roots Albertans” to request an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) on the proposed Badlands Motorsports Resort facility.
“An EIA is the right thing for the government to do,” Save the Rosebud member Wendy Clark tells the Mail.
The development of Badlands Motorsports Resort has been ongoing since 2008 when land was first purchased. The proposed facility is within the boundaries of Kneehill County, though borders on Wheatland County.
It is estimated the facility will draw more than 300,000 visitors per year.
Members of Save the Rosebud have several concerns regarding the impact the racetrack will have on the area--including to wildlife in the river valley.
Noise impact assessments were completed in 2009. However, Clark noted during the presentation these reports were “deficient” and do not address the impacts noise levels will have on species in the area, including the federally threatened bank swallow and a nesting pair of golden eagles.
There are also concerns about increased traffic along rural country roads and environmental impacts from the proposed modification of wetlands and stormwater containment systems on the property, which runs along the Rosebud River.
“We believe virtually any increased use of Wheatland’s narrow secondary access, with blind corners, cannot be safely supported,” Clark said during the presentation. “It puts residents who currently use it at risk, it would put racetrack users at risk, it would put emergency responders at risk, and I believe it would create a liability for Wheatland County.”
Due to new information received during the Save the Rosebud presentation, Division 6 Councillor Glenn Koester made the motion to send a letter of support to the director of Alberta Environment and Parks to conduct a provincial Environmental Impact Assessment.
During council deliberations Wheatland County Reeve Amber Link said, “There are certainly, potentially, impacts to Wheatland County due to the proximity of the potential development adjacent to our municipality. While development decisions are certainly within the jurisdiction of Kneehill County and I fully respect their autonomy in that, we also have a responsibility through governance of Wheatland County to ensure due diligence is being considered regarding this project.”
The motion was defeated with councillors Jason Wilson (Division 1), Tom Ikert (Division 4), Deputy Reeve Scott Klassen (Division 5) and Ben Armstrong (Division 7) voting against writing a letter of support; Reeve Amber Link (Division 2), Councillor Donna Biggar (Division 3), and Councillor Glenn Koester (Division 6) voted in favour of the motion.
Lacie Nairn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Drumheller Mail