A proposed grain terminal in the County of Wetaskiwin passed its first hurdles at a planning meeting June 8.
The terminal, proposed for NW & SW 2-46-24-W4M by G3 Canada Ltd., which is directly south of the City of Wetaskiwin on the east side of Hwy. #2A, had its proposed area structure plan presented during a public hearing at the County of Wetaskiwin’s Planning and Development meeting Friday. The meeting had been rescheduled from its normal Thursday date.
County staff had to rearrange the council chambers a bit as almost 40 people attended the hearing. It was wall-to-wall people.
Director of Planning David Blades introduced the application, which calls for a grain handling facility with train tracks to be developed in the location in question. The ASP is supposed to hold information on traffic, access, storm water management and public engagement among many other things.
Blades said the ASP was sent out for referral and the public hearing had been publicly advertised. He stated the traffic impact assessment sent to Alberta Transportation was still in their hands for study. He said Alberta Transportation had requested more information than had been originally submitted, and as of June 8 it could be one to two more weeks before Transportation responded.
G3’s agent, Bob Burnett, showed several maps of the proposed development, noting there will be no effect in terms of drainage if the elevator is built and the rail loop was designed with the cooperation of CP Rail. He said the rail loop will not have any clanging or banging. Burnett stated one train will be loaded every 10 to 20 days.
Burnett stated the elevator will have no effect on the Wetaskiwin Airport.
He stated the elevator in theory will have two impacts on neighbours: noise and traffic.
As far as traffic goes, he said Alberta Transportation is currently examining the ASP’s traffic study, and the company is aware the pubic had concerns about the intersection on Hwy. #2A. Burnett said G3 is committed to upgrading the intersection to the standard Alberta Transportation requires, although G3 hasn’t received a response from Transportation yet.
He also stated the grain terminal will pay a six figure tax bill every year.
At this point in the public hearing, Reeve Kathy Rooyakkers opened up the floor to comments from the public. A number of the immediate neighbours spoke, the first being Murray Dewald. He said he lives near the elevator and is not concerned about the building as much as the effect the elevator will have on traffic. He said he feels up to 100 trucks a day are going to cause problems on the highway and county roads like Twp 460.
Another neighbour, Karrim Krammedine, stated his family lives closer to the proposed elevator than anyone, and he was very concerned about traffic, noise and dust. He pointed out the large size of some trucks compared to the size of turning lanes, and suggested no more than one truck would fit in a turning lane. Krammedine asked how more than one truck turning would be accommodated.
More neighbors spoke against the ASP or the development in general, noting concerns about school buses, public consultation and road damage.
One speaker was in support of the ASP and development, stating he’s a truck driver who hauls grain and sees lots of truck traffic around Camrose which doesn’t make too much noise. He said concerns he heard at the public hearing could be addressed.
Assistant CAO Jeff Chipley read three letters from people who couldn’t be at the hearing, and all three were in support of the elevator ASP and development in general. They said having a grain elevator close to Wetaskiwin would save time for farmers and be good for the local economy.
Councilor Lyle Seely asked if G3 would upgrade the intersection before construction started on the elevator. G3 representative Murray Vanderpool stated that’s not usually the way the company handles projects but he would take that idea back to the company.
Vanderpool pointed out G3 is a grain handling company, and doesn’t handle road projects. He said the company hires other companies to handle that for them.
He also pointed out the elevator will include state-of-the-art dust control technology. “There’s very little dust,” said Vanderpool.
One member of the public asked what G3 needed to get the project approved. Reeve Rooyakkers answered that they needed the ASP approved, a re-zoning and a development plan.
One audience member asked if G3 would focus construction work on local contractors. Vanderpool answered that G3 will have lots of opportunities for local contractors and that this could be a good time to own a hardware store in Wetaskiwin.
Blades stated county staff recommended passing first and second readings of the ASP, and hold off on considering third reading until Alberta Transportation gives their feedback on the traffic study.
Rooyakkers closed the public hearing. Councilors discussed the ASP. Seely stated this is a positive project but traffic is obviously a concern. He stated G3 should move on the intersection upgrades as soon as Transportation advises them of what’s needed.
Councilors passed first and second reading of the ASP. The application will return at a future meeting.