Jobs boost seen from proposed gravel operation
Dozens of jobs could be created by a proposed $12 million gravel project in Barrhead County.
Fort McMurray-based Stony Valley Contracting Ltd. says it has found a “significant” gravel deposit at a 640-acre site about 30 miles from downtown Barrhead.
“It contains in excess of 50 million tonnes of gravel,” said company general manager Dan Fouts last Thursday. “This is a long-term project. We are talking about 30-plus years.”
If approved, the Stony Valley Project could deliver 2,700-3,000 tonnes of gravel to markets in Barrhead County, Lac Ste. Anne and Edmonton.
Fouts said over the last two years Stony Valley had been holding one-on-one meetings with residents and landowners.
Now the company plans to widen its consultations by holding an open house and town hall meeting at the Mystery Lake Community Hall on June 26.
There will be two sessions – 1:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. – which will include displays.
Another open house is planned for October, probably at the same venue.
“We believe in being part of the communities in which we operate,” said Fouts. “We want to be partners, not only by listening to and addressing concerns, but also investing in communities. We would like to be part of promoting Alberta and Alberta’s people.”
Fouts said he and his business partner, Wayne Woodhouse, operations manager, were born and raised on farms in the Ardrossan and Calmar areas.
“We are Alberta boys,” he said. “Between us we have more than 50 years of experience in the aggregate business.”
Stony Valley has two regulatory hurdles to cross before it can start operations at the Crown Lands site in TWP61-R7-W5M.
First it requires development approval from the provincial government’s Alberta Sustainable Resource Development. Applications must include a conservation reclamation plan describing how the gravel will be developed, what measures will be put in place to protect the environment and suggested end land use after reclamation. This could include creating recreation facilities or restoring the land to a wildlife habitat.
Secondly, the company must get a development permit from Barrhead County. This requires Stony Valley to demonstrate it has obtained provincial approvals and met with residents and landowners to identify, understand and address as well as possible potential issues or concerns.
“We have applied for neither,” said Fouts. “We do, however have agreement in principle from ASRD subject to end land use.”
If everything falls into place as the company hopes, it could have both approvals by April or May 2013.
Road building and pit development would then take place. It is unlikely operations would start before 2014.
Stony Valley has identified a potential haul route from the proposed development site through the Connor Creek Grazing Reserve to provincial Highway 18.
It says the route protects a critical sharp tailed grouse habitat – one of the issues raised when the company first put forward its proposal – and addresses other routing concerns.
A former route proposal linking the development site to Highway 18 and Highway 43 will also be up for discussion at the open house.
Fouts said both routes would require road building and upgrades, possibly costing from $7 million to $9 million.
“The road infrastructure is a considerable part of the project and the initial investment,” he said.
Fouts said the plan was for a consistent stream of 25 trucks to leave the site for Edmonton, making three trips a day.
“That means there will be 75 truck movements,” he added.
The trucks will deposit gravel in a series of satellite yards in the Edmonton area.
Although gravel operations did not generally require a lot of workers, said Fouts, Stony Valley planned to hire 25 local employees at the site.
Work will involve loading, excavating, bulldozing, stripping equipment and operating off-road vehicles. Of course, there will also be work for truck drivers.
Fouts said Stony Valley would sub-contract out hauling.
“We hope to encourage local trucking companies to provide a delivery service to Edmonton,” he added. “We think we can provide them with a longer season than is traditionally the case in the construction market. There is definitely the potential for all kinds of spin-offs for the Barrhead area.”
Fouts said the gravel at the site was 80 to 100 feet down and of a very high quality: he had no doubt that Stony Valley could compete effectively with much bigger companies.
Gravel touched on every aspect of construction, from roads to buildings, he said.
“Deposits are becoming seriously depleted,” he said. “Wayne and I have a lot of experience and contacts in the business. I don’t see any problem in finding clients.”
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