The Resource Extraction Regulatory Review (RERR) will help the County achieve a more competitive balance between economic, social, health and environmental outcomes related to the regulation and operation of sand and gravel (aggregate) industries.
Our resource extraction regulations are decades old. Now is the optimal time to review and modernize these regulations, where appropriate, to better protect residents’ health, safety and quality of life. Reviewing these regulations also gives us an opportunity to position the County competitively and align with industry and municipal best practices
Throughout the Resource Extraction Regulatory Review (RERR), the County assessed the following:
- existing regulations
- market conditions
- competitive positioning
- best practices
- environmental and compliance monitoring
At its meeting on Nov. 15, Council deferred the review of a pair of proposed bylaws related to resource extraction to the new year.
Council is committed to reflecting stakeholder advice in the proposed bylaws, and ensuring the proposed bylaws provide clarity and flexibility for potential aggregate operators.
Council directed administration to review the significant amount of information received from the public and industry representatives along with the Calahoo-Villeneuve Sand and Gravel Advisory Committee.
The proposed bylaws will come back to Council early in 2023 for consideration. If first reading is provided, Council will hold a public hearing to give the public another opportunity to provide input related to resource extraction.
In addition to proposing bylaw amendments, administration will prepare a staged implementation plan for other recommendations in the RERR Final Report – such as reviewing committee governance, levies, communication and enforcement supports – providing roughly nine months of transition time before any bylaw amendments come into effect.
What We’ve Done
The RERR process began in 2020 and included extensive public engagement, where we listened to residents’, landowners’ and operators’ input. We conducted surveys, interviews with industry members, several online and in-person open houses and more.
View our what we heard report for a summary of the feedback we heard.
The RERR Final Report was accepted in March 2021. Its goal is to open up access to more sand and gravel deposits while maintaining or improving our natural environment and the human health, safety and quality of life of residents living near new pits.
May to June 2020: Administration conducted phase one of public engagement.
August 2020: Council accepted the best practices report and What We Heard Report from public engagement (phase one).
Oct. 19 to Nov. 6, 2020: Administration conducted phase two of public engagement.
January 2021: Council accepted the What We Heard Report from public engagement (phase two).
Early 2021: Final reports and recommendations were presented to Council.
March 23, 2021: Council accepted the RERR Final Report.
May 3 to 20, 2022: Administration conducted phase three of public engagement. The purpose was to gather stakeholder feedback on the recommendations of the RERR Final Report.
Oct. 25, 2022: Council accepted the consolidated What We Heard Report. This report summarizes public and stakeholder feedback and administration’s analysis from all phases of public engagement. Council directed administration to prepare bylaw amendments that reflect input from the public and stakeholders.
Commonly Asked Questions
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.
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
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