Resource Extraction Regulatory Review (RERR)

The current municipal bylaws on sand and gravel development are more than 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, safety and quality of life of our residents around new pits.

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

Nest steps

Council will consider first reading of the proposed Land Use Bylaw amendments at its meeting on October 25, 2022.

What We’ve Done

The Resource Extraction Regulatory Review process began in 2020 and included more than 10 months of public engagement including surveys, interviews with industry members, and several online and in-person open houses.

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. You can view those reports below.

Thank you for your input

We provided several opportunities to provide feedback on our recommendations where residents were able to speak directly with a Sturgeon County representative about the review and ask questions about the recommendations.

  • We held an in-person, public open house on May 3, 2022
  • We held three separate virtual Ask a Planner sessions
    (May 10, 11 and 12)

Commonly Asked Questions

This review process began in 2020 and included more than 10 months of public engagement, including surveys, interviews with industry members and several online and in-person open houses.

 

  • Where is the location that this project is focusing on?

    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 and gravel extraction site or if there is an application by an operator to change/expand operations.

  • Where are the existing deposits within Sturgeon County?

    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.

  • What are the potential changes under consideration, and where can I find them

    Recommendations for changes are outlined in the Resource Extraction Regulatory Review Final Report which have been carried forward into a bylaw 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

     

  • How does Sturgeon County monitor the impacts of gravel extraction and potential groundwater implications?

    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

  • Why is this review being conducted?

    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.

     

  • What approach does Sturgeon County currently use to regulate resource extraction (aggregate) operations?

    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.

  • What approaches do other municipalities use to regulate resource extraction (aggregate) operations?

    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 

  • What is the timeline for this review?

    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 and 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.

  • Who is being consulted as part of this review?

    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.

Need 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 .