Big Lake is a Special Places 2000 Natural Area (1999). The development limitations for land adjacent to the lake have long been considered “severely restricted”. (see 1989 EMRPC map) The land is prone to flooding; vegetation and wildlife are sensitive to encroachment by development.
An attempt at putting a major bypass through the wetlands at the east end of the lake was convincingly defeated by a petition in 1997. The petition asked that the area be protected in its natural state because it is valuable to the environmental health of Big Lake/Red Willow Park and to the quality of life of the citizens of St. Albert. It asked that transportation alternatives be investigated. A lengthy public consultation process produced an alternative road, Ray Gibbon Drive, which would avoid the sensitive wetland area through an alignment further east. Functional Planning Studies for that new alignment were prepared to update our transportation master plan.
However, a newly elected council recently decided to go ahead with the defeated Bypass, against public opinion expressed in the petition, and without any comparative studies of the two alignments. The Bypass road/river crossing is intended to service land north of the Sturgeon River.
The alignment would threaten the ecosystem of the Big Lake Special Places site.
Just before the bypass was “resurrected”, Genstar Development Company obtained in Alberta Environmental Approval for placing fill on part of the flood fringe of the Sturgeon River, at the city’s west side. The 280 ha site is intended for a housing development of a population of about 8,000. Only the areas in the west and south of the Genstar site are located within the 1:100 flood fringe. The Genstar land is adjacent to the SP2000 site.
I submitted a Statement of Concern about fill being placed in the flood fringe of the Sturgeon River and Big Lake. So did many others. We were rejected by the Director and not considered “directly affected”.
I appealed directly to the Alberta Environmental Appeal Board to be considered “directly affected”. The Hearing to consider whether I qualify as being “Directly Affected”, that is, have “Standing”, will be on December 14, 2001. To keep up to date with on this issue, please watch this web site.