Sturgeon County to improve application, oversight and monitoring of sand and gravel operations.
Sturgeon County Council approved improvements to resource extraction to balance the economic benefits with the need to protect the environment and residents’ quality of life.
“We have conducted over three years of analysis and public engagement to ensure our approach reflects the needs and interests of residents, industry and other groups,” said Mayor Alanna Hnatiw. “Striking the right balance to set, monitor and enforce standards is key to assessing and managing future resource extraction operations. Managing competing interest between landowners’ need to protect and derive value from what is on and below their property has been challenging.”
Starting Sept. 30, 2023, new resource extraction operations must follow specific setback distances – the distance between operations and homes – depending on the material being extracted.
- Sand, gravel and clay operations will have a baseline setback distance of at least 400 metres (quarter mile).
- Silica sand operations will have a baseline setback distance of at least 800 metres (half mile).
In addition, new requirements for traffic management, hauling and water/groundwater management plans will apply.
Further, a new land use district – the resource extraction direct control land use district – will consider reduced setback distances on a site-by-site basis if supported by a specific assessment of economic, environmental, and quality of life criteria.
To ensure the public is aware of resource extraction operations near their properties, operators will need to consult the community before applying for a resource extraction operation and will need to share information regularly via community meetings and a County-managed platform. Sturgeon County will actively monitor and enforce new regulations to ensure resident interests are maintained.
In advance of the bylaw taking effect on Sept. 30, the County will implement other recommendations from the Resource Extraction Regulatory Review Final Report:
- Review sand and gravel committee governance
- Review the allocation of operator Community Aggregate Payment (CAP) Levy payments
- Provide new communication and enforcement supports.
The County will also finalize three policies that will guide the program, including methodology to evaluate future resource extraction direct control districting applications, criteria for applications in the vicinity of livestock operations, and an expanded policy relating to groundwater monitoring.