Another perspective on a racetrack in the Rosebud River Valley

Badlands Ariel

Dear Editor:

Re: Badlands Motorsports Resort working to finalize plans

You may be interested in another perspective on a racetrack in the Rosebud River Valley.

I am pleased to fill in a few gaps for your readers. A picture of the beautiful Rosebud River Valley and its pair of famous golden eagles would likely be well received.

Most importantly Alberta Environment and Parks have not received a completed application nor vetted this development, let alone approved it. The proposal is for a racetrack in the Rosebud River Valley surrounding and destroying wetlands and draining into the river. Many of at least 83 species of wildlife rely on this quiet and remote location for their survival. When the application is complete over 100 residents and Wheatland County are prepared to send Statements of Concern. Environment Minister, Shannon Phillips, has promised a rigorous review process to ensure any unmitigated impacts do not have a significant effect on the environment including wetlands and species at risk. She has also assured us that participation the proponents have had with other departments, including Tourism and Economic Development, is not indicative of the Government of Alberta’s endorsement. We believe that Alberta Environment and Parks have the tools in the Water Act and new Wetland Policies to effectively regulate against this development.

This land was zoned as Agricultural when purchased. As such the landowner had absolutely no entitlement to a land use change regardless of how many check marks a development officer could make on planning document. The landowner has no entitlement to any further approvals from Kneehill’s current council. With each decision Council’s highest consideration should be given to the care of our most precious natural landscapes and to ensuring the quiet enjoyment of neighouring property is maintained.

The location for this proposed racetrack facility is on the south most corner of Kneehill County, bordering and sharing the river valley with Wheatland County. 85% of the residences affected are in Wheatland County and are overwhelmingly opposed to a racetrack development. Their concerns have been ignored.

Kneehill County residents should be rightly concerned about liability the County is assuming with any further approvals. Racetracks in Alberta have extremely high failure rates and this one is a particularly risky experiment. The development on the escarpment above the river valley is pavement, concrete, buildings, and storm ponds packed into less than 160 acres with no room for expansion and reliance on a very complex and high maintenance stormwater plan. A racetrack proposed in the valley itself surrounding and destroying the wetlands will cause high impact destruction to grasslands, wildlife habitat, and historical resources that can never be restored.

Kneehill County will ultimately be responsible for clean up when there is an accident, the plan cannot be maintained, or the development is abandoned. Kneehill County will be responsible for maintenance, retaining walls, and slumping banks on six miles of pavement to nowhere. Wheatland residents will be sure to hold Kneehill County responsible for the damage to a set of very important wetlands and to the river itself. Kneehill County will be responsible when residents up and down the river valley find their property values drastically reduced by the noise and traffic of a racetrack. Kneehill County will have alienated a whole community and a neighbouring County by forever altering the river valley.

Recently Rick Skibsted won Wheatland County’s Jim Laslo Legacy Award recognizing his lifetime legacy of stewardship of the Rosebud River Valley. Rick has committed over 1,800 acres of land bordering the Rosebud River Valley to a conservation easement, protecting both the valley and cultivated land on top from any future development.

Land immediately west of the proposed racetrack has also been committed to a conservation easement. Landowners up and down the valley are enthusiastic about conservation. River valleys must effectively be conserved as contiguous ecosystems. Any degradation or fragmentation is cumulative. The unthinkable tragedy for the Rosebud River Valley would be racetracks with high fences blocking habitat, 100 high powered cars and motorcycles at one time operating at ridiculous noise levels echoing off the valley walls and driving wildlife from their home, and contamination of wetlands and the river itself.

Kneehill County is struggling with a compost facility gone wrong. Think carefully about what could lie ahead. Council has the opportunity to stop and rethink this racetrack, to take time to understand all the facts and reports, and to initiate honest and open communication with the Rosebud Community and Wheatland County.

Sincerely,

Wendy Clark

Save the Rosebud

www.savetherosebud.ca