“Our house” on the map marks Kathy and Scott McKelvie’s property. The graphic is from applicant’s package and altered by Kathy McKelvie to indicate the proximity of the proposed gravel pit to their home (about 200 yards). Photo submitted

SDAB requires more information, hearing adjourned

The controversy between a proposed 430-acre sand and gravel pit in Ponoka County and Scott and Kathy McKelvie, along with other concerned landowners, continues.

After a lengthy appeal hearing on July 5, with a packed county council chambers, the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board (SDAB) adjourned, giving the applicant VCD Aggregates Ltd. time to address some matters.

The meeting started at 9 a.m. and did not finish until about 5 p.m. The site of the proposed development is located south of McKelvie Road and east of Hwy. 2A.

The SDAB is requiring VCD Aggregates to provide an expert report on air quality and noise, with specific requirements.

The board has also proposed that a new permit, if issued, would have a time limit of five or seven years, instead of the initial 50 years, to which VCD will have to respond.

The SDAB also suggested that VCD complete the mining closest to the residencies in the area first and asked VCD to provide options to limit the visual impact of the development, such as berming the visible portions on the conveyor belt system.

The site of the proposed development borders Samson Cree Nation and Montana Cree Nation land. The board has now confirmed that the bands will be notified of the proceedings and is recommending VCD’s consultant “have an open dialogue with the appellants.”

While not exactly a victory, the appellants gained some important points, with the SDAB requiring some of the things they asked for.

“I felt heard, which is good,” said Kathy McKelvie, one of the main impacted landowners along with her husband Scott, who have hired presentation and have been fighting the proposed development for over a year.

With the reports being required, McKelvie says she’s “hoping for something scientific … I think they understand we would actually like some studies done to give us peace of mind and not just promises on paper.”

At the beginning of the hearing, the appellant’s counsel, Michael Keyes, objected to the appointment of Ponoka County Reeve Paul McLauchlin as the chairperson of the proceedings and requested he withdraw based on implicit bias.

After about a 40-minute private deliberation, the board members returned and made a statement, saying the reeve had not received any information about the matter or been involved in any discussions previous to the hearing, and he continued as chairperson.

VCD previously was granted a development permit by the Municipal Planning Committee, which the McKelvies appealed. Rather than waiting for the court’s decision, VCD made a second permit request, which was also approved, before the matter came before the SDAB appeal hearing.

Any decision by the SDAB will not affect the pending appeal on the first permit at the Court of Queen’s Bench.

VCD Aggregates must provide all the required documents to the board by Sept. 6, 2019 and the hearing will reconvene on Oct. 4 at the county office chambers.

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