tp-edm-gravel-dispute

Council rejected a gravel operation along the riverbank in southwest Edmonton. ((CBC))

A municipal development plan passed Monday night by council is a big disappointment for a company looking to mine gravel in the river valley.

Kanata Metis Enterprises was seeking a change in the wording of the development plan that would have allowed the company to run a five-year project.

Some of the profits would go towards initiatives like a Metis cultural centre.

After five years the mine would  be turned into a park.

"Today, there is a draft bylaw that will stop all gravel extraction in the river valley. This bylaw preventing all resource extraction will have far-reaching effects," said Archie Collins, president of the company.  

"Our land today is being used as a dirt bike and ATV park," he said, "which has and will continue to destroy the plants, destroy potential for new vegetation and does not support the ecological value of the river valley."

Critics worried about the environmental impact and safety of the road into the mine.

Council voted down the amendment that would have smoothed the way for the operation 7-6. But Mayor Stephen Mandel said that doesn't mean the project is dead.

"Council can make exceptions to any rule we want," he said, adding that debate over the municipal development plan is not the best place to raise specific concerns.

"This is not something to do with any one part of the city, this is the whole city," he said.

A blueprint for the next decade

The municipal development plan has been in the works for 18 months. It's a blueprint for what Edmonton will look like over the next decade.

The plan addresses issues such as urban sprawl, a key issue for Josh Kjenner, who attended the meeting.

"I favour the plan in general, but I am opposed to one specific section," said Kjenner, who was hoping for more development in mature neighbourhoods rather than building new suburbs. The city set a target of 25 per cent, which Kjenner would like to see doubled.

"I just don't want to see the city get much bigger than it already is, in terms of footprint."

Saving farmland from development

But the plan does address saving farmland from development.

"We see that local food is going to be more and more important because of higher costs that our produce is going to cost us from long distances away," said Gord Visser, who farms in the northeast corner of the city.

"It's not just about myself and my own farm," he said, "It's about the great land, and you know it was passed on to me from my father and it was passed on to him from his father."

The development plan will be presented to the Capital Region Board and then come back to City Council for final approval.