Stettler County MPC approves gravel pit reclamation plan near Big Valley

·3 min read

The Stettler County Municipal Planning Commission (MPC) has approved a gravel pit reclamation plan, noting the pit is to be returned to agricultural production. The decision was made at the Aug. 24 regular MPC meeting.

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

Planner Craig Teal of Parkland Community Planning Services presented an application from North Star Trucking to reclaim a gravel pit over five years near the Village of Big Valley that’s no longer producing aggregate.

“The subject property is located approximately 10 kilometres northwest of the Village of Big Valley,” stated Teal in his report to council.

“The quarter section abuts Range Road 20-4 along its western boundary, but is accessed through access routes of adjacent properties to the east and northeast.

“The proposed development area to be reclaimed is specifically described as LSD 14-18-36-20-W4M within the application, which is the northeast portion of the quarter section.

The reclamation area is calculated at three hectares (7.41 acres) in size. The reclamation area includes all lands that are subject of this application.

“The subject property was formerly used for gravel extraction and is known as the ‘Felesky Pit.’

The gravel pit was operated by North Star Trucking Ltd. who is also proposing to undertake the reclamation of the site. Land reclamation ensures final closure of the site’s environmental liabilities.”

Teal said during his presentation, “Not a very large pit. It’s been exhausted.”

Teal added that the reclamation area is to be returned to agricultural use but that the reclamation process can take several years to complete, especially the provincial government approvals.

This point was mentioned several times during the meeting, including the statement that Stettler County feels provincial government approvals for reclamation projects take too long to complete.

Teal noted he had no concerns about North Star Trucking’s application.

He went on to state that their plan is to use on-site materials to complete the reclamation, including both clay and top soil. He stated that, since it seems no more material is needed, there would be no large groups of trucks coming to the site to unload.

However, noted Teal, there will still be heavy equipment working on the site that will cause dust to be kicked up. For that reason a limited work day is required and it seems North Star Trucking will only work 10 hour days.

Coun. Dave Grover was happy to see the application.

“It’s nice to see somebody actually starting to reclaim their pits,” said Grover. “Good luck with getting (provincial) approval.”

Chair Nibourg finished that sentence by saying, “...after (reclamation's) done.”

Nibourg went on to state that he felt a few more conditions were needed, including one that no aggregate materials were to be moved off the site. “If the pit’s done, there’s no hauling out,” said Nibourg.

Coun. Justin Stevens responded he didn’t think aggravate removal was allowed anyway. Stevens noted he would also like to see conditions added to control weeds and erosion while the reclamation is ongoing.

Teal stated the erosion factor was already included but weed control could easily be added.

Commission members eventually passed a motion that North Star Trucking’s reclamation plan be approved with the additions stating no aggregate was to be removed from the site and that weed control on the site be conducted throughout the process.

Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review