Residents from the Village of Hussar and surrounding areas attended a public hearing on Tuesday, August 25 regarding proposed amendments to Wheatland County’s land use bylaw to allow construction of a Class II landfill near the village.
The public hearing received no written responses in support or opposition to the proposal, though the public had plenty to say in-person against the proposed facility.
“We as a council have committed ourselves to be more open to business and attracting new tax revenue. However we’re trying to be smart about it. We’re trying to keep it to less impacted lands,” said Councillor Jason Wilson during the meeting.
The proposed facility would be operated by Calgary-based remediation and reclamation company RemedX, which operates a similar site in Brazeau County near the village of Breton. If approved, the site in Wheatland County would be located approximately 1.6 kilometres east of Hussar and would accept non-hazardous solid materials, which include contaminated soil from oil and gas operations.
While studies and assessments completed by RemedX showed there would be no concerns for the nearby village, residents were unconvinced.
The main topic of concern raised by residents was in regards to increased traffic in the area of Highways 56 and 561. Residents noted the area has already been the site of numerous accidents over the years.
Current estimates by RemedX place traffic increases at approximately 12 trucks going in and out of the facility a day; while these numbers may not seem high, residents had concerns the actual traffic increases, and the risks involved to locals, would be much higher.
Residents were also concerned about rapid deterioration of roads due to the increase in heavy truck traffic, and asked whether RemedX would help support maintenance of these roads.
Aside from traffic increases, residents also raised concerns about odour from the nearby facility and loss of property value. Contamination of surrounding developed agricultural areas, particularly following the closure of the facility, was also a high concern.
The facility would operate for 30 years before closure and, though the site would have ongoing monitoring for an additional 25 years, residents had concerns whether further development in the vicinity would be possible in the future, and whether there would be any unforeseeable impacts for future generations.
RemedX estimated the facility would hire a total of six employees, but these numbers were not enough to sway residents in favour of the project. Residents were unsure of the financial value the village would see from the facility, and the question of whether RemedX would support local clubs and societies or support local businesses through contract work for the facility was put on the table.
Prior to closure of the public hearing, Deputy Reeve Scott Klassen said, “It is my power as an elected official to make these judgements; I look around the room and I don’t see a lot of support.”
Councillor Glenn Koester added, “The whole purpose of the public hearing, whole purpose of the process, is to have the area ratepayers come support it or not support it. They elect their councillors to support them.”
Following the public hearing a second reading of the land use bylaw amendments received unanimous opposition. All members of Wheatland County council approved rescinding the original first reading.
The proposed RemedX Class II landfill was not approved and further development will not go ahead in the area.