Sturgeon County | Resource Extraction

Resource Extraction Open House and Virtual Sessions

In September 2021, because of rising COVID-19 rates and restrictions, Sturgeon County was forced to postpone an open house on the proposed recommendations regarding how sand and gravel extraction is regulated in Sturgeon County. With the relaxation of these COVID-19 restrictions, we are pleased to invite you once again to share your thoughts on this important topic.

Reviewing the recommendations

We held an open house on Tuesday, May 3, from 6 – 8 p.m., at Pembina Place in Redwater where for residents to provide feedback on the recommendations found in the Resource Extraction Regulatory Review Final Report.  The recommendations outline the ways Sturgeon County could enhance the regulations and monitoring of noise levels, air quality, and traffic, as well as how proposed setback distances could be applied and enforced. These recommendations are based on the feedback that County staff and consultants received during over two years of consultation with the public, industry, and experts. 

Review the Resource Extraction Regulatory Review Final Report

Participant Information and Feedback Booklet


Thank you for your input

We provided several opportunities to provide feedback on these recommendations:

  • We held an in-person, public open house on May 3, 2022, from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. at Pembina Place (4944 53 Street, Redwater). At the session, County representatives were available to discuss the proposed recommendations and how you feel about them
  • We held three separate virtual Ask a Planner sessions (May 10, 11, and 12) where you could speak directly with a Sturgeon County representative about the review and ask questions about the recommendations.

More Information

If you have any questions or concerns, or if you would like to meet one-on-one to discuss specific matters, please call 780-939-8275 or email

Review the Resource Extraction Regulatory Review Final Report

Resource Extraction Regulatory Review Project

The current municipal bylaws on sand and gravel development are over two decades old. There is an opportunity to update these rules to better protect the health, safety, and quality of life for residents. Today, we are nearing a point where we will start to exhaust accessible resources and encounter supply and cost issues.  

For almost a year we heard from residents, landowners, and operators across the County. Based on this feedback, a report was created with recommendations, that would hold operators to a higher standard, and reduce operating setbacks to a more competitive distance. The goal of these recommendations is to open up access to more sand and gravel deposits while maintaining or actually improving our natural environment and the human health and safety and quality of life of our residents around new pits. 

To support effective decision-making, the County is collecting resident and industry feedback on its Resource Extraction regulations; including environmental and compliance monitoring, minimum development setbacks, and performance standards.  

This review process began in 2020 and has included over 10 months of public engagement. Two phases of public engagement were hosted in 2020, including 

  • Surveys 
  • Interviews with industry members
  • Several online open houses and an in-person open house 
  • Meetings with stakeholders

The County prepared reports that summarize the feedback received during public engagement, as well as reports on best practices, nearby jurisdictions, and potential bylaw approaches. A final report summarizing all research and engagement to date, and outlining recommendations, was presented in March 2021.

There are two public engagement phases as part of this review. 

Public Engagement 
COVID-19 forced Sturgeon County to get creative in the public engagement process. In person events were supplemented and/or replaced with online engagement and mailed, hard copy materials.

  1. Public Engagement One was held entirely online in May and June.
  2. Public Engagement Two was hosted using a hybrid approach, with opportunities to engage online supplemented with an open house hosted in accordance with COVID-19 protocol. We are committed to working with the community to give opportunities to get involved.

We have compiled materials that provide information about the aggregate industry, how aggregate is regulated, and aggregate in Sturgeon County. There are also several reports that have been developed as part of the Resource Extraction Regulatory Review.

The Resource Extraction Regulatory Review Final Report is a summary of information and findings resulting from the Resource Extraction Regulatory Review and contains eight recommendations. This report and related recommendations were accepted by Council on March 9, 2021.

Have a question about the project? Check below to see if your question is a commonly asked question. If you don’t see your question below, feel free to contact us and we will be happy to help! 

The Resource Extraction Regulatory Review does not involve a proposed pit being referred out for comment. Instead, the Review is a County-wide review of the rules that govern aggregate operations. While these rules apply across the County, they will only be applied when there is an application for a new sand & gravel extraction site or if there is an application by an operator to change/expand operations.

This map shows the existing deposit areas within Sturgeon County.

Note, it is not possible to know where all deposits are until exploration is conducted on-site. Some deposits may exist outside of this area, and some areas indicated on the map may have very scarce deposits. Many areas where deposits are indicated and exist, are not feasible to develop.

Recommendations for changes are outlined in the Resource Extraction Regulatory Review Final Report which have been carried forward into a by-law recommendation.  There are eight recommendations made to improve Sturgeon County’s aggregate framework and regulations, which include the following: 

  • Recommendation #1: A new municipal regulatory model with enhanced performance standards
  • Recommendation #2: Apply flexible processes for permits and approvals
  • Recommendation #3: Enhanced operator reporting and municipal enforcement.
  • Recommendation #4: Updated municipal processes.
  • Recommendation #5: Municipal communications and information platform.
  • Recommendation #6: Review of Community Aggregate Payment Levy
  • Recommendation #7: Representative Committee Membership
  • Recommendation #8: Communicate Transitions for Existing Operations

The proposed bylaw is also available online. Visit the “Learn More” tab for links to reports, proposed amendments, and all other resources related to this review.

Sturgeon County has an annual program that monitors the groundwater levels and quality surrounding gravel extraction activities. Proposed bylaw enhancements include more comprehensive reporting and assessment of potential impacts.

A copy of the existing operations report can be located here: 2019 Villeneuve-Calahoo Gravel Extration Area 2019 Groundwater Monitoring Report 


It is our goal to find the right balance between growth and our residents’ economic, social, health, and environmental needs.

Sturgeon County is committed to being the best place to live and do business in the Province. Our resource extraction regulations are decades old—with advanced environmental technologies available and in consideration of new economic realities, now is the optimal time to review and modernize these regulations, where appropriate.

Sturgeon County currently regulates aggregate operations by using only significant “buffer zones” or “setbacks” in lieu of performance standards. Performance standards are rules implemented to address potential impacts of aggregate operations and to reduce impacts on quality of life within a community. Sturgeon County’s current approach involves “fixed” setbacks that are some of the highest in the province, without any measurable performance setbacks, reporting, or consultation requirements.

Other municipalities use a variety of approaches to regulate resource extraction (aggregate) operations within their borders. Below is a brief summary of common approaches. Note that some of these different approaches are often combined when adopted by a municipality.

  • Fixed Setbacks: The "fixed setbacks" approach uses buffer zones to address potential impacts of aggregate operations on neighbouring properties. These setbacks cannot be varied. Distances of setbacks or buffer zones vary widely, from 6m to 1500m. 
  • Variable Setbacks: The "variable setbacks" approach also uses buffer zones to address potential impacts of aggregate operations on neighbouring properties. However, this approach allows the distances to be varied dependent upon the site context.
  • Operation Specific Rules: Some municipalities prescribe specific rules to the aggregate operations. Extraction-only operations are often subject to different rules than processing (i.e. washing, crushing) operations are, due to the different potentials for impacts on neighbours. 
  • Case-By-Case Approaches: A number of municipalities do not pre-determine setbacks (whether fixed or variable) or other rules. Instead, the municipality assesses the required setbacks and rules on a case-by-case basis to best address the proposed development and surrounding context.
  • Performance Standards: The "performance standards" approach is used to regulate aggregate operations. Performance standards are rules implemented to address potential impacts of aggregate operations and to reduce impacts on quality of life within a community. These rules can address a variety of impacts, including but not limited to: road and traffic safety, noise, air quality, and water.

For detailed information on how other municipalities approach regulations, see the Bylaw Amendment Options Summary (available via the "Learn More" and "Have Your Say" tabs of our website). This document includes a detailed review of the rules in over 20 other municipalities also abundance in aggregate resources.

This review has included two phases of public engagement, the development of a best practices report and two “What We Heard” reports reflecting public and stakeholder engagement.  

Public Engagement (Phase One): The first phase of public engagement took place from May to June, 2020. The best practices report, What We Heard Report from the public engagement (phase one) were accepted by Council and made available in August 2020.

Public Engagement (Phase Two): The second phase of public engagement took place from October 19 to November 6, 2020. The What We Heard Report from the second phase of public engagement was accepted by Council in January 2021 and made available online.

Final reports & recommendations have been presented to County Council throughout early 2021. The Resource Extraction Regulatory Review Final Report was accepted by Council in March 2021, and draft bylaw amendments given first reading on March 23, 2021.

Next steps will be announced shortly, and updates provided on the “Updates” portion of this webpage, as well as to mailing list subscribers.

There are many ways to learn about aggregate in general, and within Sturgeon County as it relates to this Review. The following are a list of resources available on our website to become familiar with this topic. This list will be updated as information becomes available to remain current.

  • The Learn More tab of our website reviews the basics of aggregate.
  • Our Resource Extraction & Regulations Handbook provides information about resource extraction. Whether you’re brand new to aggregate, or have a basic understanding about it already, this document will help you learn about aggregate and ensure you’re up to date before telling us what you think.  Get the Handbook
  • Our Resource Extraction: Relevant Materials Library is a listing of comprehensive reference materials. This is for those who want to delve deeper into aggregate information and regulations, to help you find what you’re looking for. This also includes all reference materials mentioned in the handbook.  Get the Library
  • The Aggregate Best Management Practices Report reviews approaches to regulating the aggregate industry across Alberta. This document will help readers understand common approaches, what is known to work well when regulating (and what doesn't). An in-depth look at how 20 nearby municipalities (all rich in aggregates of various types) regulate aggregate developments is also included. Aggregate BMP Report
  • The What We Heard Report reflects the results of the first public engagement. What We Heard Report
  • The Bylaw Amendment Options Summary outlines the four different options for bylaw amendments related to aggregate extraction. Sturgeon County is seeking input on these four options, before proceeding to refine these options and develop final reports and recommendations. Bylaw Amendment Options Summary
  • Contact Us for questions that remain after reviewing the above pieces of information.

This Review is a significant undertaking that involves a variety of stakeholders. Residents, landowners, and business owners within Sturgeon County represent important public stakeholders. Industry members in the resource extraction (aggregate - including sand and gravel) industries have also been involved. Finally, other key stakeholder groups such as Sturgeon County's economic development board, sand and gravel committee, and transportation advisory committee have also been consulted during this review.

There are many ways to have your say that have been provided, and opportunities that will continue to be provided. Our Have Your Say tab online outlines these opportunities in detail.

The first phase of public engagement occurred from May - June 2020, and the second phase from October to November of 2020. These opportunities included in person open houses, opportunities for virtual discussions, County-wide mail outs, and opportunities to speak with the Review team.

Moving forward, a public hearing will be required for Bylaw amendments. Further opportunities for engagement will be announced on the “Have Your Say” and “Updates” tabs of this webpage, as well as provided to subscribers of the resource extraction email list.

Recommendations have been developed based on engagement results and the expertise and reporting of the consultants working on this Review. The consultants on this project have expert knowledge in the field of resource (aggregate – sand and gravel) extraction, and will review all inputs and research in order to develop this recommendation.

Decisions will be made by Council based upon all information, reports, and recommendations provided as a part of the Review.

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