WHEREAS Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) sets the standards for municipal water and wastewater treatment facilities and landfills; and
WHEREAS municipalities are required to build and operate such facilities to current AEP standards either as new facilities or when upgrading existing facilities; and
WHEREAS AEP processes allow individuals who claim to be affected by the operation of new or upgraded facilities to file statements of concern and eventually to appeal to the Alberta Environmental Approval Board regarding those approvals; and
WHEREAS the cost of responding to such statements of concern or appeals and attending approval hearings can be onerous and in some cases beyond the financial means of the municipality; and
WHEREAS in many cases concerns regarding provincial standards are not based on science or are politically motivated;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Rural Municipalities of Alberta request that the Government of Alberta adjust their processes related to municipal water and wastewater facility and landfill approvals or renewals to require that in order for a statement of concern or appeal to be valid, 10% of the landowners/residents deemed to be affected must endorse the statement of concern or appeal.
This is an issue regarding the Alberta Environment and Parks appeal process for municipal water and wastewater facilities and landfills. During the standard notice period for approval regarding any water or wastewater facility, two residents were allowed to file a concern against a municipality that initiated a hearing holding up the process for over a year at a cost of approximately $600,000.
Due to the extreme cost of hearings, administration time, engineering and legal fees, at least 10% of directly affected persons should be required to sign a petition before the Alberta Environmental Review Board consider it a valid complaint. This would still protect the rights of Albertans but stop one person from initiating a hearing that affects all Albertans financially and could stop a project costing local taxpayers and their municipalities millions of dollars.
References: Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) (file no.’s 13-022-025, 14-011 and 14-018)
Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act and Approval No. 00334295-00-00 under the Water Act issued by the Director, South Saskatchewan Region, Operations Division, Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development.
RMA has no active resolutions directly related to this issue.
Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP)
RMA appreciates the Government of Alberta’s acknowledgement of the importance of municipal infrastructure projects to Albertans and that timely and cost-effective delivery is an ongoing challenge. However, the Government of Alberta’s response does not include any reference to the “ask” of the resolution: that municipal water and wastewater facility and landfill approvals or renewals require 10% of the landowners/residents deemed to be affected to endorse the statement of concern to be valid.
The Government of Alberta has provided RMA with the opportunity to share concerns with the environmental appeal process, and RMA will update this resolution based on the outcomes of the discussion. RMA assigns this resolution a status of Intent Not Met.