County of Wetaskiwin council did not obstruct an interim start for the new G3 Canada grain terminal on Hwy. #2A, but several councilors voiced concern about how the interim start was handled. The issue was discussed at the Planning and Development council meeting Dec. 5.
The issue was presented to councilors by assistant CAO Jeff Chipley, who started the grain terminal located south of the city is operational, but one major intersection, at Hwy. #2A, has not been sorted out yet and that’s where the problem with council originated.
“G3 Canada Limited has been working towards providing a design to be implemented for the intersection of Highway 2A and TWP 460 in accordance with the requirements of Alberta Transportation,” stated Chipley’s memo to council.
“As a result, there are two (2) design options with the first option requiring additional lands from the two (2) adjacent landowners to the intersection. The other option does not require additional lands, but does require a full signal set, rail crossing gates, and lights plus advance flashing signal ahead lights as indicated on Page 12 of the Consultation Presentation that was presented to invited members of the public by G3 on Wednesday, November 20, 2019, which has been provided in its entirety for review by Council.”
Chipley noted that, technically, the development permit between G3 and the County of Wetaskiwin stated there would be a start-up only after all the intersection upgrades were completed, which, as of Dec. 5, they are not.
“In regard to the request, Administration is supportive of the operational start-up for the initial grain fill for the settling of the grain elevator and the interim measures for the conditional grain truck haul routes presented by G3,” stated the memo.
“Due to the approved Development Permit stating under Condition #10 that all intersection improvements must be completed prior to commercial operations commencing, Administration wishes to confirm that Council is also supportive and approves the operational start-up and the interim measures presented by G3 up to a period of no later than June 30, 2020.”
Councilor Bill Krahn said that if the terminal opens at 9 a.m., it wouldn’t be unusual for grain trucks to start lining up at 8 a.m. and if one of the intersections isn’t ready, the large number of trucks could cause a problem.
Director of Development David Blades stated G3 and Alberta Transportation are working together to ensure safety and pointed out Alberta Transportation didn’t oppose the interim start.
Councilor Josh Bishop said he was not happy G3 would plan an interim start despite the fact the development permit conditions weren’t met. “They do not have approval,” said Bishop.
Councilor Lyle Seely stated council wants to see the terminal up and running too but moving forward without approval wasn’t the way to go.
Councilor Kathy Rooyakkers noted all companies, big and small, should be treated the same way and if G3 needed interim approval they should have contacted the county sooner.
Chipley pointed out G3 did conduct public consultation on this issue. Councilors were provided with a copy of an email which summarized consultation between the company and neighbours.
“An invitation only meeting was held Nov 20/19 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Best Western Inn, Wetaskiwin,” stated the G3 email dated Nov. 22.
“Invitations limited to landowners adjacent to the G3 site and approximately 12 G3 customers. Purpose of meeting:1. to review the design of the Hwy 2A/Twp 460 intersection, 2. present operational plans for interim period Dec 2019 to July, 2020 (when intersection improvements will be completed) 3. describe haul routes for interim period. Approximately 25 persons attended. Most were G3 customers.
“The notable points raised by the audience included: 1. Ability of trucks approaching G3 from the West on Twp 460 to cross directly over 2A to reach the site. G3 did not know the answer but promised to look into it, 2. Requests for improvement on the grades on both the east and west sides of the CP mainline on Twp 460. G3 indicated this area would be improved during the course of construction, 3. Concern that traffic signals at the intersection could interfere with passage of farm machinery. G3 indicated this concern would be relayed to the design team (Stantec Engineering), 4. One attendee indicated she was very happy about the proposed speed reduction from 100 to 80 kph and really like the idea to provide traffic signals. The general audience consensus was that the design addressed all safety and functional concerns, 5. The general audience consensus was that the mitigation measures described during the interim period before the intersection improvements are completed were fair and reasonable and 6. Nobody expressed any specific concerns regarding the proposal for intersection improvements or the operational plans associated with the interim period.”
Councilors eventually agreed to approve the interim start-up but also send a letter to G3 stating they were concerned about the interim start-up occurring before council approved it.