A controversial proposal to develop a gravel extraction operation along the banks of the North Saskatchewan River within Edmonton city limits will be considered by Edmonton City Council at a May 16 public hearing on the issue.
“The extraction operation, planned for a riverfront property east of 199 Street and south of 23 Avenue in the southwest of the capital, only a few kilometres downriver from Devon, would abut large portions of the river valley,” reports the Devon Dispatch in a May 6 article. “Behind the proposal is Kanata Metis Cultural Enterprises Ltd. A similar proposal was made in 2008 by Qualico Developments, but plans were dropped in the face of massive public opposition.
“According to Kanata, extraction would occur for a period of no longer than five years, after which time the area would be converted to a city park, or a natural Metis cultural centre. Opposition group North Saskatchewan River Valley Conservation Society (NSRVCS) however does not trust Kanata’s word.
“‘The truth is, neither Kanata’s proposal, nor their official application, include any commitment to build a park,’ says a report on the NSRVCS website, www.edmontonrivervalley.org. ‘To portray the proposal as including a park is misleading and inaccurate.’
The main opponent to the proposal, the North Saskatchewan River Valley Conservation Society (NSRVCS), has expressed serious concern over Kanata’s application to mine gravel in Edmonton’s largest remaining and environmentally sensitive natural area, which would also require council to reverse the City’s Municipal Development Plan by-law which currently bans all industrial activity in the river valley.
“Mining gravel in Edmonton’s pristine river valley has not been allowed for many decades, and for good reason – it is environmentally destructive, and several viable gravel pits are abundant within close proximity,” the group argues. “Should Kanata, or any other proponent, be given permission to mine in Edmonton’s river valley, it would set a precedent opening the door for industry and development throughout Edmonton’s river valley.”
The NSRVCS is proposing instead to protect the area through the creation of the Big Island/Woodbend Natural Area, which would span 500 hectares of natural area, which contains a number of unique features, including Edmonton’s largest and most distinctive riparian complex of wetlands and springs, the city’s only intact sand dunes and habitat for the Capital Region’s largest population of deer.
“Before plans can move forward, Edmonton city council must vote to rezone the area for industrial purposes. The proposal will come before council on May 16. A public hearing on the matter will occur before the vote,” concludes the Devon Dispatch article. “In a report prepared for council, city administration is not supporting the rezoning on the grounds that it does not conform to Edmonton’s Municipal Development Plan, though council is not bound to follow administration’s recommendation. Parkland County has sent a letter to the city of Edmonton opposing the plan.”
The NSRVCS is encouraging Edmontonians and those in the area to take two actions:
1. Attend the Public Hearing at City Hall on May 16. The schedule of the day is:
- 9:30 a.m. (Call to Order)
- 12:00 noon – 1:30 p.m. (Lunch Break)
- 3:30 p.m. – 3:45 p.m. (Recess)
- 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. (Dinner Break)
- 9:30 p.m. Adjournment
2. Express concern about the proposal by contacting Edmonton City Council, Mayor Mandel and other officials.
Mayor Mandel’s office can be reached at 780-496-8100 and full contact information is available here.
You can also contact:
The City Planning Department
ATTENTION: Don Read
Planning & Development Department
5th floor, 10250 – 101 Street
Edmonton, AB T5J 3P4
Direct Telephone (Don Read): 780-496-3633
Environment Minister Rob Renner
10th Floor, Petroleum Plaza South Tower
9915 – 108 Street
Edmonton, Alberta T5K 2G8
Telephone: (780) 427-2391
Points to consider raising in your email/letter to city council (more information to help you write your letter is available at www.edmontonrivervalley.org):
- That you are opposed to Kanata’s proposal for a gravel operation abutting the river valley within Edmonton city limits
- That you oppose revising the Municipal Development Plan by-law which currently bans all industrial activity in the river valley
- That you support legislated protection for the river valley and think that industrial development on this scale is inappropriate for a sensitive and important ecological area
- That a protected river valley is an important feature of Edmonton for residents and visitors alike
- That you believe the proposed Big Island/Woodbend Natural Area vision appears to be a good option for protecting the area.
- That Edmontonians have already spoken loudly in opposition to a similar proposal by Qualico
- That you are concerned about the high volumes of heavy truck traffic in a residential area that would inevitably come with a project of this size