By Justin Seward
Close to half a dozen Cypress County gravel pit operators had the opportunity to speak to council about how the Community Aggregate Payment (CAP) levy with affect their operations at the July 3 council meeting.
Council passed the CAP levy bylaw which imposes a levy of $0.40 per tonne on sand and gravel delivered from gravel operations within the county on May 1. Administration was asked to research how to exempt contracts tendered in 2018 with a delivery coming in 2019.
Allan Denis of A.G. Core has owned a gravel pit east of the Dunmore scales for 14 years. He said to council that his taxes have increased 3,000 per cent in 10 years, which is 30 times the original with most of the fluctuation coming in the last five years.
“I don’t know any other industry in this county that has seen these kind of increases,” said Denis.
“I’ve heard whispers we’ll say, unrenewable resources, and managing our resources. That’s the reason for the CAP. Our gravel pits require a development and reclamation permit with the Province of Alberta, which also binds us and we have to pay for our deposit.”
“In my case I put up $100,000 so that I’m able to sell gravel. I’m faced with losing that if I’m in default of Alberta Sand and Gravel Association. As far as unrenewable resources and management, we follow it and are looking after it at an expense.”
Denis added that the county should take an informed look at the gravel industry and reconsider the CAP levy because operators are “ put in the position of collecting it and according to the letter faced with fines, audits if we ignore it.”
Doug Bauman, owner of Steep Rock Ltd., told council that the levy was put in place for a specific purpose, which he related to gravel pits in Calgary where the levy signs are displayed around the city saying an ongoing project was supported financially by the levy.
The projects would commence after an agriculture land owner would complain about dust and noise at a gravel pit.
He added the county implemented the levy without consultation and without a purpose.
“I don’t think anybody is operating an operation that’s using roads and drainage and going by acreages and communities using county roads would object (to)that sort of thing,” said Bauman.
“I think too often in this world, we’re no longer doing what is ethically or morally correct, but rather what we can get away with and this is how I view this levy. The county thought ‘Oh OK we can grab the money from these guys so lets just grab it.’”
He added that he hasn’t heard any justification there has not been any justification as to where the money is going and what it is used for.
“I know if we had to do something like this over again, it would be definitely public consultation before we did anything,” said Reeve Richard Oster.
“It’s been a good learning lesson for us. We definitely have to sit back and we will take another look back at what we’ve done and our reasoning behind it.”