An hour-long hearing on extending the deadline for submissions and reports ended up with the entire process being pushed back one month.
Ponoka County’s Subdivision and Development Appeal Board (SDAB) heard from VCD Aggregates Ltd. and opponents of the proposed gravel pit along McKelvie Road on Sept. 5, just one day before VCD’s deadline to submit a number of expert reports that had been requested by the SDAB.
VCD was granted its extension and will now have until Sept. 20 to file its draft operations plan and other expert reports that make up the plan. Meanwhile those appealing the development will have until Oct. 11 to respond to those documents instead of Sept. 20.
Those new dates necessitated moving the original appeal hearing from Oct. 4, with the SDAB setting the new date as Nov. 4.
According to a press release from Ponoka County, the SDAB ruled that, “The delay in commencing the hearing is relatively modest, particularly given the applicant is requesting a two-week delay in its filing date.”
The release also noted that, while all parties raised general concerns about the delays, the SDAB accepted there have been challenges in getting the information required for the various reports connected to the operations plan draft.
It stated, “October is typically harvest season in central Alberta, and it could be problematic or a significant inconvenience to affected parties and SDAB members if the hearing were to occur in October.”
Both VCD and the parties opposed to the development were left with mixed feelings about the various delays.
During the hearing, VCD argued that in spite of its need for a two-week extension there was no need to push the hearing another month and that any concerns expressed by others over delayed noise measuring activity were misplaced.
The company also stated many of the reports refer to other documents and need to be looked at in their entirety.
On the other hand, those parties fighting the gravel pit felt no extension should be granted given VCD only came to nearby landowner in August to measure noise levels.
It was felt that VCD could submit what reports are available with only the SDAB could have granted an extension only for those documents that are not ready.
Opponents also questioned a previous statement by VCD’s consultant that the process is simply holding up the start up of operations, which leaves those opposed thinking much of the necessary documentation is already completed.