WHEREAS the AAMDC responded to member direction to examine the process of acquiring aggregate resources in Alberta through the development of a research paper; and
WHEREAS at its October 2013 meeting, the AAMDC Board of Directors approved the paper and directed that it be put before the membership for adoption as the AAMDC’s official position;
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.
AAMDC members have expressed increasing 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 has developed a report entitled Got Gravel? Strategies to Secure Gravel for Rural Municipalities.
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. 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.
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. Once the report is adopted by the AAMDC membership, the association will proceed with advancing positions outlined in Got Gravel.
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.
Environment and Sustainable Resource Development: Environment and Sustainable Resource Development (ESRD) allocates sand and gravel on public lands. The Alberta Aggregate (Sand and Gravel) Allocation Policy for Commercial Use on Public Land is the tool currently in place to allocate aggregates. The ministry works closely with municipalities to ensure their needs are considered prior to major allocations.
When a surface materials lease application is received, ESRD notifies the municipality. The municipality is given the opportunity to comment and indicate whether it wants to reserve part or all of the aggregate for public works. Municipalities may also identify sources of aggregate for public works and may apply for appropriate dispositions.
The Government of Alberta does not provide first priority to municipalities for gravel pits less than 80 acres to ensure economic competitiveness, and to create greater opportunities for entrepreneurship and investment. Commercial operators require certainty that their efforts to explore and develop gravel pits less than 80 acres are not jeopardized by municipalities having subsequent first rights to the resource. ESRD works closely with municipal governments and provincial agencies to ensure their needs are considered prior to major allocations greater than 80 acres.
Municipal Affairs: The report “Got Gravel? Strategies to Secure Gravel for Rural Municipalities” concerns Crown land leases for aggregate operations which are within the mandate of ESRD. ESRD should remain the main point of contact for the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties concerning the recommendations in the report.
Municipal Affairs is involved with aggregate primarily through the Community Aggregate Payment Levy Regulation, which enables a council to pass a bylaw to place a levy (up to 25 cents per tonne on shipments of sand and gravel) on businesses operating in the municipality. This levy is intended to raise revenue for infrastructure and other costs in the municipality related to the costs of having a sand and gravel operation in the municipality.
Transportation: Transportation agrees that proactive planning for Alberta’s aggregate resources will help ensure a stable supply of this non-renewable resource in the future. However, there are concerns about implementing the recommendations to give municipalities priority access. This could adversely impact Transportation and private sector suppliers of aggregate for highway construction projects. Transportation would prefer to address the issues in a way that provides fair and equitable access for all aggregate users.
The AAMDC membership endorsed the recommendations outlined in Got Gravel? which met the intent of this resolution. As such, it has been assigned a status of Accepted and the AAMDC has incorporated the recommendations outlined in the report into 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.