WHEREAS Alberta Environment and Parks, through legislation, maintains control of all pit registrations for Class I pits (5 hectares or larger); and
WHEREAS Alberta Environment and Parks, through legislation, maintains responsibility for inspection, compliance and enforcement of gravel pit reclamation of Class 1 pits; and
WHEREAS the Alberta Government Code of Practice for Pits does not include an obligation for progressive reclamation; and
WHEREAS municipal districts and counties have the authority to regulate land use and development approval of all pits, regardless of size, under the Municipal Government Act and cannot enforce compliance with the Code of Practice for Pits which is enforced through the Environmental Enhancement and Protection Act;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties request the Government of Alberta amend the Code of Practice for Pits to:
FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties request that the Government of Alberta maintain inspection and enforce compliance with the Conservation and Reclamation Regulations and the Code of Practice for Pits; and
FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties request that the Government of Alberta amend the Code of Practice for Pits to put into place enforceable reclamation requirements for gravel pits established prior to August 15, 1978 so as to enhance the quality of life and opportunities for rural residents.
A viable aggregate industry is a necessary component of a vibrant Alberta economy. As the Province grows and expands there has been an increased level of conflict between adjacent land uses and aggregate operations. This resolution is intended to require potential negative offsite impacts to be reduced and minimized at the earliest opportunity so that multiple land uses may co-exist in areas that contain significant aggregate deposits.
The Province is responsible for inspection and enforcement of Class 1 pit reclamation plans through the Environmental Enhancement and Protection Act. Municipal districts and counties have the authority through the Municipal Government Act to approve land use and the development of pits and regulate pit operations to minimize impact and conflict with surrounding land uses. In recent years most municipalities that contain significant aggregate deposits have updated statutory plan policies and land use bylaws trying to gain a balance between competing land uses.
The Code of Practice for Pits defines “pit” as follows:
(l) “pit” means an opening or excavation in or working of the surface or subsurface for the purpose of removing any sand, gravel, clay, or marl, where the area of the pit and any associated infrastructure, including stockpiles, connected with the pit, is, or at any time was, greater than or equal to 5 hectares (12.5 acres), but does not include:
(i) a borrow excavation,
(ii) a pit on public land,
(iii) a pit, or a portion of a pit, where the surface or subsurface of the land has not been disturbed by pit operations since August 15, 1978, or
(iv) a pit, or a portion of a pit, on which a waste management facility is operating or operated pursuant to a valid approval or registration under the Act;
The Code of Practice does not require the operator of a pit to obtain municipal land use approval prior to Provincial pit registration and prior to any changes to pit registration being approved.
Alberta Environment and Parks govern environmental stewardship for all pit operations on private land through the Environment Protection and Enhancement Act and its associated regulations. Alberta Environment and Parks require Class I pits (5 hectares or larger) to obtain approval under the Code of Practice for Pits and through this process security is determined. The Code of Practice for Pits does not enable Alberta Environment and Parks to enforce Progressive Reclamation on pits with enforceable time limits.
Without a mandatory requirement for Progressive Reclamation and suitable securities to provide sufficient incentive and encourage environmental stewardship, pits are not achieving a timely return to equivalent land capabilities to minimize impacts on surrounding areas.
Code of Practice for Pits: http://www.qp.alberta.ca/documents/codes/PITS.pdf
Conservation and Reclamation Regulation: http://www.qp.alberta.ca/documents/Regs/1993_115.pdf
Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (EPEA):
A Municipal Guide to Sand and Gravel Operations in Alberta (2007 AAMDC):
11-15F: Provincial Support for Municipal Aggregate Acquisition
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.
DEVELOPMENTS: While the AAMDC appreciates the commitment made by Alberta Environment and Parks to review regulatory programs for sand and gravel pits based in part on weaknesses identified by the AAMDC in the current system, the Government of Alberta response does not address the resolution request to better utilize existing policy and regulatory tools to protect municipal aggregate needs. This resolution is assigned a status of Intent Not Met, and the AAMDC looks forward to advocating on this issue through the upcoming regulatory review.
Environment and Parks: The availability of compliance and enforcement resources with regard to pit operations has long been a concern to all stakeholders. Alberta Environment and Parks staff is investigating current and developing opportunities for more effective oversight during the program review.
The department organized targeted stakeholder engagement sessions in Leduc (January 26 and 27, 2017) and Airdrie (February 2 and 3, 2017) to obtain feedback on proposed program improvements. Representatives of the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties attended both sessions where reclamation requirements were presented and discussed. These stakeholder engagement sessions were the first of its kind for pits program in Alberta. Currently, specific outcome from the sessions are under assessment.
The recent engagement sessions offered the first opportunity for representatives of those associations who are the most affected by program changes to meet.
These sessions illustrate the department’s commitment to working collaboratively on drafting revisions that will improve Alberta’s pits programs. These improvements will strive to balance environmental, economic and social factors to guide these revisions.
The AAMDC appreciates the opportunity to be involved with other stakeholders through the engagement sessions offered by Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) to discuss pit reclamation and compliance requirements in early 2017. Recognizing that AEP will be drafting revisions to improve Alberta’s pits program to address compliance and regulatory issues, the AAMDC assigns this resolution as a status of Accepted in Principle pending the results of this review. This resolution will continue to support AAMDC’s advocacy efforts as revisions to the Code for Practice for Pits are undertaken. This resolution status will be reviewed as additional information becomes available.