Sturgeon County | Resource Extraction
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Resource Extraction Regulatory Review ProjectResource Extraction Regulatory Review Project

THE REVIEW 

THE BIG PICTURE

Sturgeon County is blessed with high-quality agricultural land, oil & gas, and aggregate and mineral resources. At the same time, the County is facing significant financial challenges from the impact of global trade wars, oil & gas price reductions, the pandemic and resulting high levels of unemployment.

THE CURRENT SITUATION

The County is reviewing various opportunities to enhance revenues and reduce operational expenditures while keeping property taxes low and ensuring our overall competitiveness to attract investment. 

In addition to a number of economic development opportunities, we are in the process of reviewing the County’s resource extraction regulations, and are specifically looking at the rules in place for how the sand and gravel (aggregate) industry operates within Sturgeon County. It is our goal to find the right balance between growth and our residents’ economic, social, health, and environmental needs.

In this context, the County can either:

  • Do nothing and continue to absorb a declining resource based on existing setback regulations; or,
  • Review best practices to responsibly enable extraction and realize local economic opportunities while addressing resident and stakeholder concerns.

Sturgeon County’s resource extraction regulations are decades old. With advanced environmental technologies now available and in consideration of new economic realities, we have an opportunity to review and modernize these regulations, where appropriate. 

The review includes a consideration of Sturgeon County's existing bylaws, inputs from industry representatives, municipal priorities, and inputs received through public engagement. Sturgeon County will also strongly consider best practices from across the province that are grounded in scientific data.

However, to support effective decision-making, the County is collecting resident and industry feedback on all aspects of its Resource Extraction regulations; this includes elements like environmental and compliance monitoring, minimum development setbacks, and performance standards.  

This review process began in April 2020 with an initial survey, interviews with industries, and several online open houses, where we talked with hundreds of Sturgeon County residents. Based on what we have heard so far, and what we’ve seen in other jurisdictions, the County has prepared drafts of potential bylaw amendment options and is now seeking your input prior to making any decisions on next steps.

 

PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT 

PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT AT A GLANCE

Public engagement forms an important part of the review, and we appreciate the time taken by the community to get involved. Your voice matters!

Throughout this review you are invited to learn about the aggregate industry, Sturgeon County's existing bylaws, practices within other municipalities, and ways that could be considered to enhance our own practices. 

There are two public engagement phases as part of this review. A second phase was added, after Sturgeon County heard during the first phase that increased consultation was desired by the community.

Public Engagement One

The first public engagement was hosted virtually, between May 19 to June 17, 2020. Respondents were welcomed to get involved by completing an online survey, signing up for focussed, virtual "coffee talks," and otherwise discussing their questions and inputs with the project team. The purpose of this first public engagement was for the community to share their thoughts, experiences, and ideas about the aggregate industry and operations. For more information about the approval of this first public engagement, please see the associated press release

Public Engagement Two

There are many ways to get involved in the review and have your say.

  • Online: This website (www.sturgeoncounty.ca/ResourceExtraction) is the primary source of information for the review and includes opportunities to connect with Sturgeon County and provide input. A survey will be linked here when the next phase of public engagement begins.
  • Hard Copy Mailings: If you are unable to access the internet or prefer print materials for reading accessibility, you are invited to contact the project team to receive hard copy materials by mail, or to participate in a telephone meeting.
  • Open House: A public open house (hosted in accordance with COVID-19 protocol) will be hosted as part of the second public engagement. The date will be announced in the upcoming weeks. Information on location, date, and how to sign up will be posted here.
  • Public Hearing: Following the public engagement program, a public hearing with County Council will be scheduled for early 2021, and will offer another opportunity to learn about final recommendations and potential bylaw amendments and to provide input.

 

PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT & COVID-19

Due to the current public health situation related to COVID-19, in-person events will be supplemented with alternative options such as online engagement and mailed, hard copy materials. The first public engagement was held entirely online in May and June. The second public engagement will be hosted using a hybrid approach, with opportunities to engage online supplemented with an open house hosted in accordance with COVID-19 protocol. We recognize that this is a challenging time for many residents. We are committed to working with the community to ensure those that are interested have the opportunity to learn about the review and get involved.

 

PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT: OUR ADVERTISING

To ensure that everyone has their say in this process at-a-distance, we are reaching out to residents of Sturgeon County in diverse and creative ways. Here are some places you might see or hear about the review:

  • Online: Of course, we’re advertising this on our website and will be keeping our engagment page up to date. 
  • Social Media: Stay tuned to our social media for updates.
  • Email: If you want to subscribe to email updates on the review, you can do that here: Subscribe to Mailing List.
  • On the Road: We have road signs at key locations that direct you to our enagement webpage 
  • At Community Hubs: Even at a distance, there are places we frequent. We have placed signage at many community mailboxes to increase visibility.
  • Mail Out: We have sent a letter advertising this engagement to residents in areas of the County closest to resource extraction. Click here to see where we sent out mailouts during the first public engagement. For the second public engagement, an advertising mail out is being distributed County-wide.
  • Newspapers: During the course of this engagement, there will be ads in local newspapers informing readers of this review. 

 

THE REVIEW: ANTICIPATED TIMELINE

The review includes two phases of public engagement, the development of a best practices report, 'what we heard' reports reflecting the public engagement, and a final report and set of recommendations to Sturgeon County Council. If recommendations result in proposed bylaw amendments, there will also be a County Council public hearing process. 

Potential Dates:

  • 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 made available in August 2020.
  • Public Engagement (Phase Two): The second phase of public engagement will take place from October 19 to November 6, 2020.
  • Final reports & recommendations will be presented at Council in December 2020.
  • If required, the first reading, public hearing, and second and third readings of potential bylaw amendments will occur early in 2021.

 

LEARN MORE

WHAT IS AGGREGATE?

The term 'aggregate' is used to describe rock products like sand and gravel. Aggregates are non-renewable resources and are located in limited, naturally occurring deposits. Aggregate plays a critical roles in modern society and is used for the construction of almost all forms of development.

AGGREGATE AND THIS REVIEW

The aggregate industry is vital to Sturgeon County. It provides local employement opportunities, a reliable non-residential tax base, and provides important resources to support local development. This review is an excellent opportunity to evaluate ways to support local aggregate operations and to ensure sustainable development now and into the future.

As we grapple with the current economic situation, including restrictions to businesses caused by COVID-19 and unsteady oil prices, the County is exploring ways to diversify and strengthen the local economy.

Representatives of the aggregate industry are supportive of an opportunity to re-evaluate current bylaws to ensure safe and responsible development. Operators have expressed that they want to be good neighbours and look forward to working with the community to better understand their perspectives.

It is important to preserve and enhance resident quality of life, ensuring health and safety, and to protect the natural environment.

FUN FACTS & CONTEXT

The aggregate industry plays a huge role in Alberta – but just how much?

  • The aggregate industry employs thousands of Albertans and is a vital resource to other sectors like oil and gas.
  • According to Natural Resources Canada, aggregate production was valued at almost $935M in Alberta in 2015.
  • It is estimated that about 42 to 62M tonnes of aggregate is used annually in Alberta alone.
  • Every Albertan uses about 10-15 tonnes of aggregate per year – that means about one truckload per person.
  • The further away sand and gravel resources are to market, the more they cost. This is primarily due to transportation costs.
  • Utilizing aggregates that are closer to the market not only results in more affordable projects, but also translates to reduced Greenhouse Gas emissions and less wear and tear on local infrastructure, such as roads, during transporatation.
  • Many roads in the Edmonton region, including the Anthony Henday Drive, have been built with local aggregate that has helped keep the cost of these projects lower.

 

SUPPLEMENTARY MATERIALS

We have compiled educational 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. We reccomend reading these materials prior to public engagement participation.

  • 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

 

HAVE YOUR SAY

ENGAGE: HOW TO GET INVOLVED

Getting involved in this review and having your say is easy – we have many ways for you to engage.

Public Engagement Phase One: This phase of public engagement was conducted between May to June 2020, and is now complete.

Public Engagement Phase Two: This phase of public engagement will be available from October 19 to November 06, 2020. Please review the following steps to learn how to get involved in the second phase of public engagement. 

 

Step 1: Background Information 
We have compiled educational 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.

  • 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

 

Step 2: Tell Us What You Think

There are many ways to engage with us during Phase Two of the public engagement, and tell us what you think!

  • Take our Survey – A survey for the second phase of public engagement is available from October 19 to November 06, 2020. Take the survey here.
    Take the Survey
  • Attend our Open House – An in-person open house will be hosted on November 05, 2020. This event will provide an opportunity to learn about the Resource Extraction Regulatory Review, including best practices and proposed bylaw amendment options, and discuss with members of the team in person. Attendees will also be able to share their thoughts on the proposed bylaw amendment options.
    • Date: November 05, 2020
    • Time: Hourly, 1:00 PM - 9:00 PM
    • Advance registration required! To ensure capacity is not exceeded and COVID-19 precautions are adhered to, advance registration is required. Please call 780-939-8275 to reserve your space now.
    • Location: Calahoo Community Hall
    • COVID-19: To ensure the safety of everyone at this in-person event, COVID-19 precautions must be adhered to by all attendees. These precautions include (but are not limited to), symptom checks, social distancing, and mask wearing. All supplies will be provided at the open house.

The personal information you provide is submitted as your expression of interest to participate in the virtual public engagement portion of the Resource Extraction Regulatory Review and is collected under the authority of Section 33 (c ) of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.  If you have any questions about the collection and use of this information, please contact the Sturgeon County Access and Privacy Officer at 9613 – 100 Street, Morinville, Alberta, T8R 1L9 (780) 939.4321 or foip@sturgeoncounty.ca.





Step 3: Stay Connected

Staying tuned will make sure you know when the reports are released, what the recommendations are, when the public hearing is (if required), and when final decisions are made. There are many ways to make sure you don’t miss anything.

  • Sign Up: You can sign up for regular updates by email or by postal mail (please email pandd@sturgeoncounty.ca or call us at 780-939-8275 or Toll Free 1-866-939-9303 Ext. 8275 for the postal mail option). Subscribe to our Mailing List
  • Keep Watching: You can also check our engagement webpage regularly – all updates will be posted under the 'Updates' tab on this page.

Your personal information provided will be used to process your request for email updates on the Resource Extraction Regulatory Review and is collected under the authority of Section 33(c) of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.  If you have any questions about the collection and use of this information, please contact the Sturgeon County Access and Privacy Officer at 9613 - 100 Street, Morinville, Alberta, T8R 1L9 (780) 939.4321 or foip@sturgeoncounty.ca

 

CONTACT US

Questions? Comments?

 Telephone: 780-939-8275 or Toll Free 1-866-939-9303 Ext. 8275

 Email: pandd@sturgeoncounty.ca
 

Stay Informed

Signup for updates

*Please check your junk folder for subscription confirmation*

Your personal information provided will be used to process your request for email updates on the Resource Extraction Regulatory Review and is collected under the authority of Section 33(c) of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. If you have any questions about the collection and use of this information, please contact the Sturgeon County Access and Privacy Officer at 9613 - 100 Street, Morinville, Alberta, T8R 1L9 (780) 939.4321 or foip@sturgeoncounty.ca

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 are most likely to be of interest to those near existing deposits. If you were within the mail out area, you are within 2km of an area that likely has deposits.


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 actually have very scarce deposits. Many areas where deposits are indicated and exist, will also never be extracted as it is not feasible to do so. However, this map provides the best approximation of areas that may have aggregate deposits, based on current data.


The proposed changes are available as part of the "Bylaw Amendment Options Summary," (Bylaw Amendment Options Summary) which outlines four different options for bylaw amendments related to aggregate extraction. Sturgeon County is seeking input on these four options as part of the second phase of public engagement, before proceeding to refine these options and develop final reports and recommendations. 

Final recommendations will be made to Council in December 2020, at the end of the second engagement period and after reviewing and considering all inputs and data. If changes are made (it is possible that this Review could find no changes are suggested), the bylaw readings and public hearing will occur in 2021.


Sturgeon County has an annual program that monitors the groundwater levels and quality surrounding gravel extraction activities.

A copy of the 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 not to be varied, and align with some of the highest found in the region.


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.


The review includes two phases of public engagement, the development of a best practices report, 'what we heard' reports reflecting the public engagement, and a final report and set of recommendations to Sturgeon County Council, all during 2020. If recommendations result in proposed bylaw amendments, there will also be a County Council public hearing process in early 2021. 

  • 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 made available in August 2020.
  • Public Engagement (Phase Two): The second phase of public engagement will take place from October 19 to November 6, 2020.
  • Final reports & recommendations will be presented at Council in December 2020.
  • If required, the first reading, public hearing, and second and third readings of potential bylaw amendments will occur early in 2021.

 


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. Our Have Your Say tab online outlines these opportunities in detail.

While the first phase of public engagement occured from May - June 2020 and is now complete, the second phase of public engagement will occur between October 19 - November 6, 2020. Opportunities to engage include an in-person open house, opportunities for virtual discussions, phone calls as desired (see the contact us webpage), and an online survey.


Recommendations will be made by the consultant working on this Review. A consultant with expert knowledge in the field of resource (aggregate - sand and gravel) extraction will review all inputs and research in order to develop this recommendation.

Decisions will be made by Council based upon all information provided as a part of the review.


Update [October 19, 2020]: Phase Two Public Engagement is Live

Public engagement will be live October 19, 2020 to November 06, 2020. 

 

Update [September 22, 2020]: Phase Two Public Engagement Dates Announced

Council has approved the launch of the second phase of public engagement for October 19, 2020 extending to November 6, 2020.

 

Update [August 25, 2020]: Council Approval of BMP and WWH Reports

Two reports were brought forward to Council for consideration. The Best Management Practices Report (BMP Report) and the What We Heard Report (WWH Report). Council has accepted both of these reports as information.

 

Update [July 2020]: Second Public Engagement Added

Due to increased demand for input during the first phase of public engagement on this important Review, a second phase of public engagement has been added. This second phase of engagement will occur in autumn 2020.

 

UPDATE [June 12, 2020]: Engagement Extended

Due to increased demand for our online "coffee talks," engagement has been extended and will now end at 5:00 PM on June 17, 2020. The online survey will close at this time. Additional coffee talk opportunities have been added on June 16th. Please see the "Have Your Say" tab for additional details on current engagement timelines.