Residents of Rocky View County have expressed opposition to a proposed gravel pit to be built just north of the city

Lehigh Hanson Materials Ltd. hope to redesignate 600 acres on the northern edge of Calgary, near Bearspaw for the potential construction of a new gravel pit.

Rocky View County assessed a proposal from Lehigh Hanson Materials during a special council meeting Tuesday morning as concerned residents watched virtually. 

Residents in the area are against the gravel pit, citing health concerns, including dust, ground water contamination and noise.

Ardi Edwards, who lives near the proposed development site, feels that the development would impact her way of life and the lives of surrounding wildlife.

“It would really, really, really ruin our lives," Edwards said, in an interview with CTV News.

“See the thing is if we have to breath in this gravel dust, this silica stuff that goes into your lungs and never comes out, what does it do to all the animals out there?

“You know, it’s really sad...and everybody feels the same way, everybody is on edge,” said Edwards.

Ken Venner of Brown and Associates Planning Group, on behalf of Lehigh Hanson made the presentation to council to address the concerns over the proposed pit. 

“Really the sum total of the investigations that we’ve put together demonstrates that our master site development plan, and the land use amendments associated with it, is consistent with the natural resource policies of the county plan as well as the Bearspaw area structure plan,” said Venner. 

The company has reapplied for this mine numerous times, in 1994 and again in 2010, and have been rejected each previous attempt but say that this new proposal addresses the concerns from past rejections.

Nuisance

Ardi Edwards' husband Michael feels that an active pit like the one under proposal contradicts the reason people move out to the area in the first place.

“Most of the people who came here move because they wanted sort of country residential type thing quieter, a little more room, fresher air, that sort of stuff,” said Michael Edwards.

The couple are already in proximity of other gravel pits, none as close as the proposed new one and already find that to be a nuisance. 

“Where they're mining is about two miles away from here and we hear it every night," Edwards said.

“The snow near those places is black with gravel dust as it floats over the berms and so forth.

“We just think it says it's too close (to our homes)," Edwards said.

Bearspaw resident - and former Olympian - Catriona Lemay Doan, who lives on the outskirts of the impacted area still shares concerns with fellow residents over the potentially adverse health impacts.

“I’m worried about myself; I’m worried about my teenage kids and the damage that this is going to do to them over 30 years,” said Doan. 

Doan like Michael Edwards sees this as missing the mark of why people go to live in a country residential area. 

“This goes against the county plan, it's considered country residential, and they want to build a mine which is going to destroy 48 wetlands, destroy this massive piece of land on the backyard of so many residents,” Doan said. 

Even if the application is approved and the rezoning is permitted it could still be a while before any ground breaks as Lehigh Hanson Materials would still need additional approval from Alberta Environment and Parks to start an open pit mine.

Tuesday evening, the Rocky View Twitter feed announced that due to a large number of submissions, the meeting had been recessed for the night. It is scheduled to resume at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

Due to the significant number of public submissions related to today’s public hearing, this Special Council Meeting has been recessed and will reconvene tomorrow, Wednesday, Feb. 3 at 9 a.m. For more information and to view the livestream, go to https://t.co/SzRXelwbz4. pic.twitter.com/ffRkuKuSYM

— Rocky View County (@RockyViewCounty) February 3, 2021

With files from Ty Rothermal and Kevin Green