Gravel strategy report presented to committee

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The Mountain View County policies and priorities committee has been given a review the municipality’s 2017 gravel supply strategy report.

The move came during the committee’s recent regularly scheduled meeting.

Reeve Bruce Beattie said the report provides a lot of good information for future planning purposes.

“I think it gives us a good understanding of what our resources are today and what our needs will be for tomorrow and how we are going to meet those needs,” said Beattie.

“Gravel is a very important part of our economic infrastructure, but it also has an impact on our residents. So it is important to understand what our resource is. The important thing is to plan well in advance.”

The report was prepared by county staff to “outline options and certainties going forward in regards to the supply of aggregate for road construction and road maintenance purposed.”

“Since the inception of Mountain View County the use of gravel to maintain and construct new roads and facilities has been critical,” the report states. “Maintaining a supply of aggregate for use by the county is critical to the long-term sustainability of the county.”

The report outlined eight specific contributing factors in regard to gravel production and usage by the county: how roads and road uses have changed; environmental and social impacts of gravel pits; advocacy; support; gravel usage in county operations; strategies for reduced gravel use; strategies for gravel supply challenges; and recommendations.

The county uses almost 300,000 tonnes of gravel every year to maintain and construct its infrastructure inventory, the report states.

“If the county cannot obtain new sources of aggregate or utilize existing sources economically, methods will be needed to reduce the gravel consumption.”

The county estimates that there are 19,500,000 tonnes of gravel in service county-wide.

“Operational services has broken the county into three main challenge areas in regards to gravel supply. The main challenge area is east of the QEII. This area has similar geology throughout.

“Historically this area has been serviced by the Hehr pit in the south, the Dyck and Lachman pits in the north, and various pits in central. All of these sources of gravel are depleted; only the Dyck pit remains as an active source of gravel extraction.”

The other two challenge areas identified are the south central part of the county between Cremona and Didsbury, and from the Red Deer River east to the QEII, including Olds and Eagle Hill.

Possible strategies for reduced gravel usage in the county outlined in the report include the following:

ï reduce service level or close roads: “The way to reduce gravel usage quickest would be to reduce the service level to which our roads are maintained.

ï shoulder pulls (gravel reclamation): “There are many machines and devices that have been invented and that are in use to essentially pull lost gravel from snowplowing, grading activities, erosion and general traffic from the ditch back onto the road. The main drawback to this is that large amounts of organics and other items in the ditch also get deposited on the road surface.”

ï chemical additives: “One of the causes of weakened gravel road surfaces is due to the loss of fines (small particulate matter that bind all stones together). There are various chemical additives that are in use to help keep fines in the road base.”

ï More hard surface roads: “Hard surface roads do not require as much gravel to maintain as gravel roads. In total, 437 per cent more gravel will be required to maintain the gravel road vs. the chip seal road.”

ï Utilize non-spec gravel: “Using gravel from pits that do not meet Alberta Transportation specifications would increase our gravel supply options, but decrease the quality of the county’s road network.”

The final recommendations in the report include the following:

ï In 2017 prepare a tender for gravel supply east of the QEII for the 2018 construction season.

ï Obtain rezoning and development permits on the airport pits.

ï Keep prospecting for gravel east of QEII.

ï Prepare options for chemical stabilizers on busy roads east of the QEII.

ï Pursue the purchase of other properties that contain gravel reserves.

The committee, which is made up of sitting county councillors, accepted the report as information. Coun. Angela Aalbers did not attend the April 4 committee meeting.

The complete gravel report can be found on the county’s website.

“Gravel is a very important part of our economic infrastructure, but it also has an impact on our residents.”Bruce BeattieMountain View County reeve

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About Author

Dan Singleton

Dan Singleton is the editor of the Mountain View Gazette who joined the newspaper in 1994. He covers news, municipal politics and community events in Mountain View County. He is also a longtime columnist for other publications of Mountain View Publishing.