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Letter: RVC public hearings prevent proper resident input

Dear editor, I am writing to express my continued disappointment and frustration with Rocky View County.

Dear editor,

I am writing to express my continued disappointment and frustration with Rocky View County. The County is showing total disregard for procedural fairness in the pending Lehigh Hanson application to construct an enormous open pit mine in the middle of a residential area at the corner of Burma Road and Rocky Ridge Road.

When are written submissions actually due? The public hearing for this application was originally scheduled for Dec. 22, 2020. After significant public pressure, RVC rescheduled it to Feb. 2. However, staff have completely botched the notification process to ratepayers. A letter to residents indicated that written submissions must be received by 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 27. Their website, however, indicates submissions must be received by 4:30 p.m. on Jan. 20. All of this is very confusing for residents who may miss the Jan. 20 deadline, who want their voices to be heard. The County needs to send out another letter to ratepayers and/or make a very simple change to their website to identify and clarify the confusion surrounding submission deadlines.

Also, why are there no live presentations? Members of the public are being denied the opportunity to present their objections live and directly to council. It is understandable that presentations cannot be made in person during this pandemic, but Lehigh Hansen is being given the opportunity to present and defend their application on a live feed. Residents who want to present are only allowed to submit video files, and therefore cannot ask or answer questions or clarify their concerns. To make matters worse, video presentations must be submitted in a .MP4, MOV, or WMV video file no larger than 300MB in size. Not all residents have access to technology or possess the skills required to meet this standard. Furthermore, it is not possible to do a 10-minute video presentation in 300MB’s, so the County says such presentations should be split into two pieces. This disjointed and technically confusing process is hardly an effective way for ratepayers to make their concerns known.

Is this really best RVC can do? The official that I spoke with indicated this is the best they can do due to COVID-19 and technology limitations. This just isn’t true. There is no reason this public hearing can’t be postponed for a few months until public gatherings are again allowed. This project will have a 50-year life, so what’s the rush?

Confusing and incorrect notice periods, the inability for ratepayers to speak live to their councillors while Lehigh Hanson is allowed to do so, and significant technological restrictions that make submissions difficult and disjointed all amount to procedural unfairness. The County has done everything it can to stack the deck against residents whose lives will be destroyed if this huge open-pit mine is approved.

Come on, RVC. Your ratepayers deserve better. Give us a fair chance to speak up on this very important issue.

Susan Brown

Division 8

Airdrie Today Staff

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