Gravel pits a threat to our waters, help!

Edit: I will be posting updates about the proposed mines here:

I am from manitow-sâhakihkan, Lac Ste. Anne in Alberta. I grew up between three very important lakes: Lac Ste. Anne, Wabamun Lake, and Lake Isle. These lakes are interconnected by creeks and streams, and their health have been in steady decline for many years. Development, train derailments, pollutants, and over-fishing have taken their toll. We have a lot of work ahead of us to bring these waters back to life.

A threat we are currently facing is gravel pits. Open pit mining of gravel is expanding at a furious rate in Alberta, despite heavy opposition. Compared to strip mining bitumin, gravel probably does not seem like such a dirty product. Nonetheless, these operations increasingly disturb and pollute our land and waters and all the plants and animals that rely on them.

A gravel pit operation.

A gravel pit operation.

Where my parents live, on the border of Parkland and Lac Ste. Anne counties,  there is already an existing gravel pit mine that runs 24/7, not far of Highway 16. On the site is a man camp for shift workers. The light from the operation can be seen from the highway, and there is a huge amount of dust and disturbance involved in tearing up the land for gravel.

Another gravel pit is proposed just a klick or two away, just down the road from Lake Isle.  The proposal for that one was sent out last year, and many people in the area opposed it. Unfortunately it seems that this development may still be in the works.

Today, my mom told me they received notice that yet a second gravel pit is being proposed in the area. This one will directly impact a creek that runs between Lake Isle and Lac Ste. Anne! Both of these huge gravel pits will be just a few hundred metres from Lake Isle itself, which is bound to impact the lake ecology!

The county of Lac Ste. Anne is giving people only until Feb. 29 to register any concerns they might have. Many people in Alberta have tried to oppose gravel pits with little success. I am asking for help!

If you live in Lac Ste. Anne country, or know people who do…if your traditional lands are also in the area of these lakes, or if you are simply someone who cares about the health of our waters, then please contact the county to voice your opposition to this project!

Please contact:

Tanya Vanderwell

Development Officer, Planning & Development Department

Lac Ste. Anne County

Reference this: Development permit: Gravel extraction and processing, NW, SW & SE 35-53-05 W5M, NW & SW 36-53-05 W5M, Lac Ste. Anne County.

Here is a PDF I was just sent by the county. This is the redacted application in PDF. Redacted Application – Compressed(1)

It will be much harder to fight this development if it gets past this initial stage, and all opposition at this point must be received by February 29th.

Please speak up for our sacred waters, our land, and the future of all the people in the area.


Edit: here is a map showing the proposed site, in pink. In an earlier version of this post, I indicated that the green area was another proposed site. I have clarified with the county that this is Crown land, and there is no pit proposed there. Each square is a quarter section of land, which is 160 acres. The pink site would be a gravel pit covering 800 acres. This site was proposed last year, and opposed by residents then, but it appears to still be in the works. This site would sit atop an important creeks that feeds Lac Ste. Anne, and like the existing mine just a 2 klicks or so down the road in Parkland county, these operations will rely heavily on water from the aquifer that all residents use for their well water.


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14 Responses to Gravel pits a threat to our waters, help!

  1. alexandra thomson says:

    My mom had a cabin residence on Lake Isle for over 30 years. We all have watched as the lakes ecosystem has changeover the years. From clear, swimmable and fishable, to pea soup and no fish! The agricultural impacts on the lake are killing it as the algae overgrown and the weeds take over. Please, please do not degrade this lake any further with gravel pit development! If the insensitive use of this fragile area continues, I will jot have a lake left to take my grandchildren to see. The lake where there great grandma lived. That would be too sad and sadly unnecessary. There are other non lake places for a gravel pit!

    • Please send these concerns into the county! This is exactly the kind of thing they need to hear!

      Tanya Vanderwell

      Development Officer, Planning & Development Department

      Lac Ste. Anne County

      Reference this: Development permit: Gravel extraction and processing, NW, SW & SE 35-53-05 W5M, NW & SW 36-53-05 W5M, Lac Ste. Anne County.

  2. Gwen says:

    Emailed my distain.

  3. Lynn says:

    This is very bad news. I live very nearby and had not been notified! I’ve already penned my letter to the County and will be sending it shortly. Thanks for your part in trying to stop this!

  4. I sent this message this morning:
    Tanya Vanderwell
    Development Officer, Planning & Development Department
    Lac Ste. Anne County I am writing to object to the granting of these permits. Although I no longer live in Lac Ste. Anne, I grew up there. Our family history in the area dates back to the 1700’s. It is the traditional territory of the historic Metis community of Lac Ste. Anne. I understand that no notice has been given, nor are there hearings planned, regarding these permits. This may be an infraction of the County’s duty to consult and accommodate the interests of Metis and First Nations communities in the area. The following, taken from the website of the federal department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development is an overview of that duty:
    In the Haida and Taku River decisions in 2004, and the Mikisew Cree decision in 2005, the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) held that the Crown has a duty to consult and, where appropriate, accommodate when the Crown contemplates conduct that might adversely impact potential or established Aboriginal or Treaty rights. This duty has been applied to an array of Crown actions and in relation to a variety of potential or established Aboriginal or Treaty rights.
    The following is a link to an in-depth analysis of the appropriate case law: ://…/Crown_Duty_to_Consult…

    I urge you to delay issuance of these permit pending a full public review of this issue and the fulfilment of the Crown’s Duty to Consult and Accommodate the affected Metis and First Nations communities.
    Tony Belcourt

  5. phil says:

    wishing you all the best from Brazil – where we are trying to stop damming in the Amazon, among numerous other tragic, poorly planned “interventions” in the natural landscape. profit rather than life for all creatures seems to be the only language these capitalist asshats understand.

  6. Tina says:

    Email sent!

  7. Cynthia Chambers says:

    I sent this message this morning.
    Dear Tanya Vanderwell
    Development Officer, Planning & Development Department
    Lac Ste. Anne County

    As a landowner in Lac Ste Anne County, in village of Alberta Beach, I am writing to register my opposition to, and deep concerns about, the application by T&T Sand and Gravel, for a development permit to extract and process gravel in Lac Ste Anne County, at the site of NW, SW & SE 35-53-05 W5M, NW & SW 36-53-05 W5M. I oppose this application on two grounds: environmental and duty to consult.

    First, the work being processed in this application has the potential to have serious environmental impacts on the nearby water ways: Lake Isle and Lac Ste. Anne. Lac Ste Anne is a significant spiritual site with a long history of Métis, Cree, Blackfoot, Stony-Nakoda and Assiniboine presence, occupation, and habitation. This lake, like its companion lakes in this area is undergoing serious degradation, which needs full environmental investigation and review. While these bodies of water are not directly adjacent to the site of the application, the proximity of the site to Lake Isle means that it is incumbent on the County to ensure this application undergoes a thorough environmental impact assessment, as the County is responsible for the water systems of the entire county. All the water systems within the county are interconnected and what happens to, in, and around one body of that water (or even the ground water in one part of the County) affects all the other aspects of the system. These water systems are like the artery system of a human, all interconnected.

    Secondly, these lands are the traditional territories of many First Nations as well as the Métis, who have had permanent settlements in the area for almost two centuries. While the site named in the application is not adjacent to a legal reserve, the historical evidence of traditional occupation and use of the land where this proposed site exists, is overwhelming. Potential environmental impacts of the proposed gravel extraction and processing would seriously impact the waters and lands in and around the traditional territories of the Indigenous people in the Lac Ste. Anne County and in adjacent counties.

    I appreciate that the Lac Ste Anne County provided an opportunity for people to register their concerns about the proposal. A full environmental review must be conducted before this application proceeds, and every effort must be made to consult with the Métis Local and surrounding First Nations about development projects within the County.

    Cynthia Chambers, BEd, MA, PhD
    Landowner, Village of Alberta Beach
    Emeritus Professor of Education

  8. Bob Garnett says:

    Are they going through with the gravel pits any news? I sure hope not. I’m not aboriginal but I also grew up here and watching the environmental destruction since the 80’s has been upsetting!

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