Planned gravel pit has residents concerned

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Plans for about 30 years of gravel excavation north of Black Diamond is raising concerns among nearby residents about dust, noise and traffic.

More than 20 Black Diamond-area residents attended an open house at the Turner Valley Golf Club Jan. 17 hosted by Burnco to share its preliminary plans to extract gravel in three phases over 30 years on 560 acres just east of the Foothills Cemetery.

Burnco co-owner Tracy Burns said the company currently operates on a quarter section of rented land after taking over an existing permit, and it purchased three other quarter-sections west of the current site to continue gravel extraction.

She said the company wants to work with residents as it draws up plans for the gravel pit.

“We are not going in and doing this big blow up of the section,” said Burns. “We don’t want to make a big eyesore for the residents.”

She said last week’s meeting was part of early-stage planning.

“We haven’t made an application,” said Burns. “We have to do more studies. We just want to talk to the community. We want to be part of the community.”

Burnco will reclaim the land once the resource is depleted between five to 10 years, said Burns. When the surface is removed for digging, she said it is stored and then returned once work is complete.

Burns said their mandate is to make the land better than it was originally.

In some cases, the company places bee boxes, bat boxes and birdhouses on the land. Honey from some of the bee boxes was provided for attendees to take home.

Most concerns expressed by residents focused on the potential for an increase in noise, dust, and truck, traffic and haul routes.

Trudy Cutfield lives west of the proposed gravel pit and moved to the Foothills 30 years ago to downsize her ranch and still keep her horses. She expressed concerns about the potential for more noise and dust in the area.

“I love living in the agricultural part of the area, but I know that it won’t stay the same forever,” she said.

Cutfield said she plans to pay close attention to Burnco’s plans and process over the coming months and years.

“I don’t know if they will do what they say they are going to do,” she said. “We will see what happens. I am prepared to be a good neighbour if they’re prepared to be a good neighbour.”

Cutfield said it’s important that companies operating in residential agricultural neighbourhoods be careful with both the environment and community.

“We have to be very protective of the lands,” she said. “They are not going to be there forever and we will need them forever.”

Neal Campbell farms north of Burnco’s property and said more dust could increase the chances of his cattle getting pink-eye.

He feels there is no stopping the gravel pit from proceeding

“They own the land so it’s going to go through anyway,” he said. “You’ve got to get the gravel somewhere.”

Campbell said he’s concerned about the potential for increased traffic, dust and noise.

Ulrich Scheidegger, Burnco’s vice-president of the Edmonton region, said approximately 10 million tonnes of gravel is expected to be extracted during the three phases at an estimated 300,000 tonnes per year.

Construction crews will work on a quarter-section of land at a time. When the gravel has been removed, the land will be reclaimed and workers will move to the next quarter section, he said.

“The demand seems steady,” he said of gravel. “It’s needed for every road upgrade, every house.”

Scheidegger said noise and traffic impact assessments will be done in the coming months. He added that the company still needs zoning and development permits from the MD of Foothills and that the planning is in the preliminary stages, which includes a berm west and south of the property.

“As we develop the plan it will be more detailed,” he said.

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