The signing comes after a last-minute special meeting the council had on April 1st, where ASL had requested access to excavation material within the 150-metre setbacks the RM had required. At the special meeting, Councillor Garry Dixon made a motion that the company would need to submit another application and prove that there would be no environmental impact or impact to adjacent land.
When pressed on why there had been no discussion around the motion at the April 1st meeting, the RM admitted to meeting with ASL the day before at ASL’s request.
The inclusion of the ASL agenda item at the special meeting appeared unusual. Why wouldn’t the RM have told the company they would need to reapply if that was their intention? Why have a meeting to do that when it appears they didn’t feel the need to hold a subsequent meeting to discuss or approve the terms of the addendum?
The signed addendum seems to set out a straightforward agreement. ASL agreed to follow provincial and federal environmental regulations, including not disturbing the watercourse that runs across the corner of the land.
The addendum also revealed that the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment recommends a 90-meter setback from the high stream watermark, but work is allowed up to 30 meters adjacent to the stream’s watermark. The recommendation is significant as the RM had required a 150-metre setback from the watercourse, but it wasn’t clear how they arrived at that distance.
The RM’s 150-meter limitation meant the company would fall short of the volume of material they expected to retrieve from the site. The addendum should mean that ASL will now be able to access the material they need for the sub-base for the major Provincial highway project.
Murray Wild of J & W construction owns the land where excavation is occurring. When contacted about the agreement, he said, “My personal feeling is that it’s just something that should have happened two and half months ago. It’s pretty simple stuff and there was really no reason for it to drag out for this long.”
With one major hurdle crossed for ASL, it remains to be seen how long it will take for the company and the RM to agree to the road haul agreement the company needs to move the material from the excavation site to the project site.
The RM and ASL were contacted for comment and did not respond by publication. The RM council meets again for their regular meeting on April 13th.
Jennifer Argue, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Last Mountain Times