WHEREAS sourcing of aggregate is a high priority of municipalities in rural Alberta because of their extensive road network; and
WHEREAS high volumes of aggregate are available on Crown land; and
WHEREAS Crown land is routinely leased for a variety of purposes, such as grazing, recreation, oil and gas exploration and production, aggregate, and other uses; and
WHEREAS existing Crown lessees have to be consulted with and compensated for losses and damages due to aggregate exploration and extraction; and
WHEREAS sometimes disputes between lessees and the municipality arise that cannot be settled through negotiations; and
WHEREAS the Government of Alberta has processes and remedies to expedite resolution of these disputes, but the does not make them readily available;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties request the Government of Alberta to use its existing tools, statutes, and regulations to deal with disputes between municipalities sourcing aggregate and other Crown lessees to expedite municipal aggregate exploration.
Gravel is a non-renewable resource that is essential for infrastructure development and maintenance. The provincial government, municipalities and industry all compete for these resources and there are currently no land planning strategies in place to manage allocation. The Alberta Aggregate (Sand and Gravel) Allocation Policy for Commercial Use on Public Land, approved in 2006 by Cabinet, gives municipal public works purposes top priority (along with provincial infrastructure needs).
AAMDC members have expressed ongoing concern with the processes required to obtain aggregate resources in the province and challenges in allocation and regulatory processes have resulted in unequal access for municipalities across Alberta. In response to member direction through Resolution 15-10F, the AAMDC developed a report entitled Got Gravel? Strategies to Secure Gravel for Rural Municipalities. The AAMDC membership demonstrated support for the Got Gravel? report through the endorsement of a resolution at the AAMDC Fall 2013 Convention.
Got Gravel? includes recommendations that promote municipal interests in accessing aggregate resources and encourage proactive planning of this non-renewable resource to help balance availability with demand. Got Gravel? includes an in-depth analysis of geographical locations and availability of aggregate in Alberta; a review of provincial and federal legislation and policy that have an impact on planning and allocation of gravel and aggregate resources; and a detailed overview of aggregate availability and challenges within each of the Land-use Frameworks seven planning regions.
3-13F: Got Gravel? Strategies to Secure Gravel for Rural Municipalities
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that members of the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties endorse the recommendations outlined in the paper entitled Got Gravel? Strategies to Secure Gravel for Rural Municipalities and the supporting Technical Report.
15-12F: Municipal Rights to Gravel Resources Under Municipal Road Allowances
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties request the Government of Alberta to amend Section 58 of the Law of Property Act to allow municipalities the first right at no cost to gravel resources on or under municipal road allowances for the purpose of municipal road maintenance and construction even though the land ownership of all public roads and road right of ways is vested in the Crown in the Right of Alberta
15-10F: Provincial Strategy for Aggregate Resources Management
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the AAMDC encourage the Province of Alberta to develop a province wide strategy for the management of aggregate resources through the Provincial Land Use Framework; and
FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that municipalities where the resource is located be given first priority when the Province of Alberta reviews applications for a Surface Material Exploration (SME) or Surface Material Lease (SML) on Crown Land.
DEVELOPMENT: The AAMDC membership endorsed the recommendations outlined in Got Gravel? which met the intent of Fall 2013 resolution. As such, it has been incorporated into the AAMDC’s current advocacy efforts. The AAMDC has been involved, along with other stakeholders, in a review of the existing sand and gravel program to identify what could be clarified to streamline the process from application to reclamation. Recommendations from Got Gravel will continue to be advocated on in future meetings with the Government of Alberta.
Municipal Affairs: Alberta Municipal Affairs has no comment on this resolution, as it involves matters under the jurisdiction of Alberta Environment and Parks (EP).
Environment and Parks: EP will continue to follow its policy of prioritizing public works when allocating aggregate on public lands. Because of program shortfalls identified in large part by the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties (AAMDC), the ministry is looking to review regulatory programs for sand and gravel pits with a focus on fish and wildlife, surface water, reporting consistency, and reclamation. EP will work closely with municipalities and other stakeholders as it reviews these program areas.
Where there is sufficient aggregate, based on volume and location for public works, any aggregate request will be considered further following the priorities outlined in the Alberta Aggregate Sand and Gravel Allocation Directive/Policy for Commercial Use on Public Land.
Regarding access to test for gravel, there are existing policies and procedures in place, including dispute resolution processes, for when consent cannot be obtained from the current disposition holder.
Transportation: Alberta Transportation has no comment on this resolution, as it involves matters under the jurisdiction of EP.
While the AAMDC appreciates the commitment made by Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) to review regulatory programs for sand and gravel pits it does not address the resolution request to better utilize existing policy and regulatory tools to protect municipal aggregate needs.
The Government of Alberta recently announced the Alberta Aggregate (Sand and Gravel) Allocation Directive for Commercial Use on Public Land, and a new Aggregate Land Request Process, which are effective as of September 1, 2017. The Directive outlines how aggregate resources will be allocated on public land and notes that the highest priority for allocation includes aggregate needed for public works such as public roads and projects constructed and maintained by or on behalf of the province or municipality. Provincial ministries and municipalities can submit aggregate requests, supported by aggregate requirements for the next ten years, which will be reviewed by Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP). Provincial agencies and municipalities will be expected to share their aggregate requirements with AEP, other municipalities and provincial agencies who are working in a specific area. This information will be used to develop a strategy to address the immediate and medium term needs for the broader aggregate public works in the specific area.
The AAMDC participated in engagement sessions offered by AEP to discuss pit reclamation and compliance requirements in early 2017, and emphasized the need for a provincial strategy to support the allocation of aggregate resources. Though there has been progress made to clarify access on public lands, until such time that tools are in place to support effective municipal aggregate exploration and a process to address disputes between municipalities and other Crown lessees, this resolution is assigned a status of Intent Not Met.