Bearspaw residents certainly made their voices heard on Feb. 2 and 3.
Rocky View County’s (RVC) special council meeting and public hearing about Lehigh Hanson Inc.’s proposed gravel excavation pit garnered an astonishing amount of resident pushback – 83 videos, 476 letters and 267 emails were submitted in opposition to the proposed development. After nearly two days, council voted 8-1 to reject the application.
This marked the third time in the last three decades Lehigh Hanson’s ambition of rezoning a 600-acre plot to create a gravel excavation pit has been denied, after prior rejections in 1994 and 2010. The company is definitely persistent, and they clearly see the potential economic value of their proposed development.
With so many residents against the application, it begs the question why council would even consider Lehigh Hanson’s proposal in the first place. Of course, this time around, the company’s application included improvements they hoped would quell resident concerns – mainly, an overland conveyor belt system that would transport their gravel to a facility in northwest Calgary.
Money is also a factor. At the public hearing, Lehigh Hanson’s representatives claimed the gravel pit would generate more than $21 million in tax and levy revenues for the County over the next 25 to 30 years, while supporting 71 jobs at any given time. In a time of economic recession, it makes sense for RVC to consider any money-making opportunities that come its way.
But in this case, the sheer volume of resident opposition meant there was only one realistic solution – to reject the proposal.
Bearspaw may indeed have some of the best gravel deposits in North America, as area Coun. Samanntha Wright pointed out, but the region is also a growing residential area. As long as hundreds of houses continue to dot the region, Lehigh Hanson’s proposal doesn’t stand a chance. The company has to come to terms with that.
The right decision was made on Feb. 3.