Is a gravel pit more valuable than a nationally-designated historic district, a rare survival of Alberta's fur trade and early settlement past? That is what a Smoky Lake County board will decide in the next few weeks.
Alberta has a storied history, of first nations and fur traders, of the Métis and missionaries, of Mounties and later, hardy settlers from distant lands such as Ukraine. There is, however, little to show for it today.
Victoria Settlement is an exception. Perched on the bank of the North Saskatchewan River valley, northeast of Edmonton, it is a priceless historical landscape that also remains a vital agricultural community. Victoria Settlement has been designated a National Historic District, a Provincial Historic Site and a Provincial heritage and eco-tourism district. The county's land-use bylaw and development plan acknowledge its importance.
The county's development appeal board, 2½ years ago, wisely rejected a gravel pit proposed for River Lot Two, on the Victoria Trail, in the original settlement, a stone's throw from the interpretive centre. Yet it has come back to life. The county's planning commission has foolishly granted a permit to the same company to extract gravel in the same location. It's again under appeal. It's time to drive a wooden stake through this gravel pit.